Ladies and Gentlemen,
Italy associates itself with the statement pronounced by Greece in its capacity as President of the European Union.
This year’s session is taking place at a crucial moment in the history of gender equality. A moment in which each of our Countries has to take stock of what has been done at the national, regional, and international levels, but especially of what remains to be done to assure full respect for the human rights of women and girls and their full participation in the development and prosperity of their communities. The future, in fact, sets multiple challenges before us.
In particular, 2015 will be a turning point in the framework of the commitments undertaken by all the Countries gathered in this prestigious forum. The twentieth anniversary of the adoption of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action and the deadline for the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals will allow all of us to assess our progress and shortcomings in honoring the commitments we have made, but also and above all to forge a new common framework for the future that places gender equality, even more decisively, at the center of development policies that will strengthen the empowerment of women and girls as drivers of development and growth in every Country.
Italy has made great progress in recent years. In particular, by drafting and implementing the first National Plan against gender-based violence and stalking, Italy guaranteed a strengthening of structures to assist the victims, facilitating their access to the services and support they need to escape the spiral of violence.
Last October the Italian Government approved a specific law to combat gender-based violence that not only strengthens the existing pillars of prevention and repression of the phenomenon and protection of victims, but is also forward looking, providing for the drafting and implementation of a new Special Plan against sexual and gender-based violence.
To achieve the goals of equality and development for all women and girls, a firm political will is needed as well as the backing of a common legal framework based on high standards of protection. And it is with this conviction that Italy signed and ratified the Conventions of the European Council on preventing and combating violence against women and domestic violence (the Istanbul Convention) and for the protection of minors against sexual exploitation and sexual abuse (the Lanzarote Convention), which increase penalties and assure greater protection from the various forms of violence against women and girls. In addition, last November Italy became the first non-American Country to sign the Belem do’ Para Convention on the prevention, punishment and eradication of violence against women.
Italy has always been engaged in the fight against all harmful traditional practices, starting with female genital mutilations, which represent a human rights violation and jeopardize the health of thousands of women throughout the world every day. In this regard, allow me to recall that, at both the political and development cooperation levels, Italy has worked forcefully and whole-heartedly for the elimination of these practices, especially by devising a specific law on the prevention and prohibition of FGMs at the national level, financing research initiatives, training, and awareness-raising on the issue and supporting the various programmes of the UN Agencies, while at the same time earning the role of privileged partner with the African Countries that presented the Resolution on the issue, adopted by the General Assembly in 2012.
Italy is also committed to the fight against early and forced marriages, a worldwide problem with inescapable implications on gender equality, sexual health and reproductive rights, education, and violence. This commitment led to our undertaking a national survey so as to draw up a reliable estimate of the number of women and girls who are victims in our Country and support the multilateral initiatives on the issue here at the UN.
The protection and promotion of the human rights of women and girls and their active participation in the social and economic dimensions of their respective Countries will require, also in the future, a collective effort and global cooperation to address challenges that are themselves global. Italy is ready to confront these challenges, in collaboration with all the Countries present, to finally make gender equality a tangible reality for all women and girls of the world.