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Madame Chair, Dear colleagues, Ladies and Gentleman,

Italy associated itself with the statement pronounced by Latvia in its capacity as President of the European Union.

This 59th Session of the Commission on the Status of Women is taking place at a crucial moment. We are here to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action, and while recognizing the progress made since 1995, we all know that plenty remains to be done to assure women and girls’ full and equal enjoyment of all human rights, fundamental freedoms, to achieve gender equality and the empowerment of women and girls.

As states the Political Declaration we adopted on the first day of this Session: “No country has fully achieved equality and empowerment for women and girls”. Bearing this in mind, allow me to stress that now is time for action, rather than just commemoration.

Unleashing the potential of women and girls means to give women and men an equal chance to contribute to their well-being and that of societies.

Gender equality is not only a moral imperative, it is about making our societies more inclusive, more resilient, and promoting sustainable development.

Gender equality includes political, economic, social and cultural dimensions and should be put at the very core of all policies at national, regional, and international levels.

The international community, with the definition of the Post-2015 Development Agenda and the celebration of the 20th anniversary of the Beijing UN Conference on Women, has a great opportunity to embrace a new perspective on empowerment.

A “sustainable development” framework, which includes the integration of economic growth, social justice and environmental stewardship, requires profound economic and societal transformations.

By incorporating gender concerns, initiatives for the empowerment of women could – and should – be looking at creating more social protection and sustainability possibilities for women and men, their families, and the whole of society.

The Italian approach aims at reducing poverty and overcoming social exclusion through the promotion of local development. In projects implemented in countries such as Afghanistan, Lebanon, Sudan, Palestinian territories and Sub-Saharan Africa (Ethiopia, Mozambique and Western francophone Africa), Italy has mainstreamed gender issues through an approach centred on the economic empowerment of women which mainly consists in focussing on women’s economic empowerment at the local level and negotiating with national institutions to promote policies which combat every form of exclusion against women.

On the basis of the lessons learned, Italy supports a renewed commitment to gender equality in the Post-2015 Development Agenda based on the following points:

–        a “transformative goal” which addresses the structural drivers of gender inequality and the discriminatory social norms, processes and institutions that underpin these inequalities;

–        a “twin-track approach” which implies the adoption of programs specifically aimed at addressing the empowerment of women and the definition of effective measures to ensure that gender is mainstreamed in all development initiatives. For this approach, political dialogue becomes increasingly important;

–        a focus on women’s agency which means that women must enjoy freedom from the risk of violence and access to justice; equal decision-making powers on family matters and control over their bodies; access to resources, control over property and decision-making on the choices related to economic assets, and voice in society and influence in policy making.

To assess progress in achieving gender equality and the empowerment of women and girls in the framework of the new agenda for development, the availability of indicators and data disaggregated by sex, age and other factors will be essential. Also in this specific regard, Italy is eager to work with all partners.

Madame Chair, Distinguished delegates,

In the last years, my country has made significant internal progress in promoting gender equality, and empowerment of women and girls, (including with regards to decision-making process and access to power), and in tackling gender-based violence. New national legislation and Action Plans have been adopted to reach these goals, and we are strongly committed to their implementation.

Some challenges remain, but my Government is strongly committed to repealing legislation and fighting practices that still discriminate against women and girls.

In order to strengthen the international binding framework against gender-based discrimination and violence, Italy is actively promoting the ratification of two Conventions of the European Council: the “Istanbul Convention” on preventing and combating violence against women and domestic violence, and the “Lanzarote Convention” for the protection of minors against sexual exploitation and sexual abuse.

Italy also signed the “Belem do’ Para Convention” on the prevention, punishment and eradication of violence against women and is committed to encouraging its wide ratification.

Madam Chair, Distinguished delegates,

Italy has always been at the forefront in the fight against all harmful practices, such as female genital mutilations and early, child and forced marriages. Both these practices represent a human rights violation and a barrier to development, which cannot be justified by cultural or traditional grounds.

To this end, Italy has had an active role in international campaigns of UN agencies aimed at eradicating these harmful practices and has contributed with an inclusive and transparent approach to the negotiations of relevant Resolutions of the UN General Assembly and Human Rights Council.

Madame Chair, Distinguish delegates,

In 2000, with the approval of the Resolution 1325 (thirteen-twentyfive) on “Women, Peace and Security”, the Security Council addressed the issue of the impact of conflict on women, and their contributions to conflict resolution and sustainable peace. Italy is strongly committed to the implementation of Resolution 1325 (thirteen-twentyfive) and its follow-up Resolutions and is looking forward to the 1325 Review this year.

The Italian National Action Plan for the implementation of the Security Council resolution 1325 confirms Italy’s strong engagement in promoting the role of women in peace and security, taking also into account Italy’s active role in UN peacekeeping and peacebuilding.

We should definitely move from “victimhood to empowerment”, recognizing the contribution women can give in overcoming post-conflict disruptions, in mediation activities, and in peace-building. In this spirit, allow me to make two examples: this year, in line with the diplomatic efforts for a political solution of the Syrian crisis, Italy will support some initiatives of NGOs aimed at fostering dialogue among Syrians, and rebuilding the social fabric of the country by focusing on the role of women. Italy will also continue to support all possible and viable paths towards dialogue and reconciliation among Libyans, through institution-building programs and activities Aldo focused on women’s rights and dedicated to the survivors of gender-based violence.

Madame chair, Distinguished delegates,

I would like to conclude my intervention by recalling EXPO Milan 2015 that will take place later this year in Italy.

Women will have a special role in EXPO Milan 2015. The initiative “Women for Expo” aims at uniting women worldwide and exploring ways to facilitate access to food and fight food wastage, starting from women. To this end, Women for EXPO is promoting different activities, including a declaration of intents (the “Women for EXPO Alliance”) to be signed by representatives of the civil society, private sector and Governments. In July there will also be a two-week event (Women’s Weeks) dedicated to the role of women in the field of nutrition and food security.

EXPO Milan 2015 is a chance not to be missed to reflect on women’s crucial role in food production, in nutrition, in responsible consumption, and in the education of future generations.

Thank you for your attention.