Mr President, Secretary-General, Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen.
As we celebrate the many important gains made for women‘s rights around the world, I want to pay tribute to the courage and strength of the women who came before us, who fought selflessly and tirelessly for gender equality.
The anniversary of the Beijing Platform for Action creates a momentum to review both our progress and challenges, as well as an opportunity to strengthen our political efforts for the full and effective implementation of its comprehensive commitments. It is important to share experiences of how prioritizing gender equality strengthens our societies. In Iceland, progressive policies towards gender equality are the foundation for an inclusive, prosperous society where people of all genders can prosper.
We have come a long way since Beijing, yet we are aware of the numerous remaining challenges to fully close the gender gap. In many areas, progress is unacceptably slow and there have been increased efforts to roll back previous victories on women’s sexual and reproductive rights and freedoms. We are concerned about the increased politicisation of women’s human rights - and are committed to defending them.
It is also disappointing to see that five years after the adoption of the 2030 agenda, it is goal number five, ensuring gender equality, that most countries are furthest from reaching.
We must and we can do better.
The gendered impact of COVID-19 is abundantly clear. As a result of the pandemic, we see conditions where those who seek to curtail women’s rights have been enabled. We see an increase in existing inequalities, an alarming rise in gender-based violence and a sharp increase in extreme poverty among women. As we begin the enormous task of rebuilding and reimagining our societies after the pandemic, it is essential we keep issues of gender equality, racial equality, democracy and social justice at the forefront in all our efforts.
We commend UN Women for initiating the ambitious Generation Equality Forum and Iceland is honored to take a leadership role in the Action Coalition on Gender-Based Violence. As the MeToo movement so clearly exposed, violence against women has not been eliminated.
Our goal must be a sustainable future where women and girls from all social backgrounds and all parts of the world have access to education and health services. Where they have equal opportunities to work, are ensured equal pay, where they are free from the threat of sexual and gender-based violence.
We owe this to our previous generations who fought for the legal recognition of gender equality. And we owe it to present and future generations whose rights and opportunities depend on the decisions we make today.