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Statement by Under-Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, Sen. Benedetto Della Vedova, at the General Debate of the 60th Session of the Commission on the Status of Women

Madame/Mister Chair, distinguished delegates, Ladies and Gentlemen,

The adoption of the 2030 Agenda last September has been a turning point in our approach to sustainable development. We must now focus on effective implementation of such a commitment. In this respect, the work of this 60th session of the Commission on the Status of Women is timely.

Women are crucial in ensuring successful implementation of the 2030 Agenda. A specific Goal of the Agenda is dedicated to promoting gender equality and the empowerment of all women and girls. At the same time, gender equality considerations are reflected in an integrated manner throughout the Agenda.

We are strongly committed to ensuring effective implementation of the 2030 Agenda at home and, through our cooperation with multilateral institutions and partner countries, in the rest of the world.

All countries are called to tackle the structural causes of discrimination and of violence against women and girls, transforming our world in a peaceful and equitable place, free from poverty. Ensuring women’s rights and recognising their role in all aspects of our economic, social and political life is essential to make our societies more inclusive and resilient and to remove existing constraints and barriers to sustainable development.

Madame/Mister Chair, distinguished delegates,

Women continue to be disproportionately affected by war and conflicts. An increasing number of women put their lifes and the lives of their children and family members at risk, by fleeing their countries in seek of a better future. They are more vulnerable to trafficking and continue to be victims of sexual and gender-based violence, including within their own homes.

Despite considerable progress, much remains to be done in order to ensure that women and girls can enjoy their rights and exercise their freedoms, are free from violence and discrimination, take full part in political and economic decision-making, are able to go to school and earn equal pay for equal work.

These enormous challenges require that our attention moves from the symptoms to the structural causes of gender-based violence and discrimination.

Madame/Mister Chair, distinguished delegates,

In order to promote women’s rights and enhance their contribution to development and inclusive growth, it is essential to strengthen the legal and policy framework for gender equality and women’s empowerment. We need to ensure full implementation of existing international human rights instruments and agreements, including the Convention on the elimination of all forms of discrimination against women and the Beijing Declaraion and Platform for Action.

Italy is at the forefront of international multilateral action to end harmful practices such as female genital mutilations and child early and forced marriage. We remain committed to working together with partner countries and all concerned stakeholders to prevent these violations of the human rights of women and to support victims.

Italy actively supports the widest ratification of the Istanbul Convention on preventing and combating violence against women and domestic violence. The new Italian National Extraordinary Plan against Sexual and Gender-Based Violence, adopted in July 2015, addresses all forms of violence against women through a holistic and multilevel approach which includes coordinated action by national and regional institutions as well as civil society organisations, in order to prevent incidents of violence against women, protect victims and punish offenders with a view to promoting their social rehabilitation and reducing the risk of recurrence.

Action is also needed to prevent sexual violence in conflict and to address gender-based violence in humanitarian crises and other emergencies. The World Humanitarian Summit in Istanbul next May constitues a unique opportunity to advocate for the protection of women in humanitarian emergencies.

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. Women play a fundamental role in preserving and promoting peace and security. We are working for updating our National Action Plan on women peace and security, involving civil society organisations and reflecting Italy’s active role in UN peacekeeping and peacebuilding. We are building on the findings of the Global Study on the implementation of UN Security Council Resolution 1325 and on Resolution 2242, in order to strengthen the role of women in peace and security.

Women can be important actors for a change. During Milan EXPO 2015 and as a follow up to the “Milan Charter”, the initiative “Women for Expo” united women worldwide exploring ways to facilitate access to food. Italy is determined to maintain a strong emphasis on rural women in all our partner countries – especially in sub-Saharan Africa – where they play a central role in ensuring food security and nutrition.

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

Italy is committed to fostering greater cooperation in strengthening statistical capacity, data production and analysis through innovative methodologies, in line with the Agenda 2030. Gender statistics are necessary to carefully measure the progress we all wish to witness on the ground and are essential to achieve sustainable development.

Madame/Mister Chair, distinguished delegates,

There is no sustainable development without peace and security and the full respect of human rights. At the same time, peace and human rights are instrumental to achieve progress and economic prosperity for all.

Last September, Prime Minister Renzi clearly affirmed that Italy would step it up for gender equality and women’s empowerement. We remain strongly committed to this goal.

Thank you.