Statement delivered by Ambassador Mariangela Zappia, Permanent Representative of Italy to the United Nations, at the 3rd Committee Meeting on “Advancement of Women” —
Thank you, Chair,
Italy aligns itself with the statement made by the European Union.
As the first-ever female Permanent Representative of Italy to the United Nations, I am truly honored to deliver this statement. As a diplomat and as a woman, I am fully committed to working with you all to further advance the empowerment of women worldwide.
This is a personal commitment, but I’m proud to say, it isalso a national priority. Italy’s action in this field involves three strategies.
First, ending violence against women: we believe that real empowerment starts from the abolition of every form of violence against women, including harmful practices such as female genital mutilation and child early and forced marriages, which serve only to perpetuate an unacceptable state of submission of half of a society’s population, an obvious hindrance to sustainable development. We are proud to take active part in the negotiations of these two resolutions. In order to translate our policies into action, this year we have also increased our core contribution to UN Women and UNFPA and we have also confirmed our contribution to the UNFPA/UNICEF Joint Programme on Female Genital Mutilation.
Second, focusing on prevention of violence in conflict situations. This line of action stems from hard data: women constitute the majority of the approximately 68.5 million refugees, internally displaced persons and asylum seekers in the world. Women are more exposed to violence, human trafficking and slavery. Italy has therefore joined the Call to Action on Protection from Gender-Based Violence in Emergencies to protect women and girls in all emergencies, and not just conflict-driven ones. In 2017 during our term in the Security Council, we promoted the inclusion, in the mandates of peacekeeping missions, of specific provisions to prevent and counter sexual violence. Moreover, Italy is also a member of the UN Secretary-General’s Circle of Leadership; has signed the Voluntary Compact, committing to the implementation of a zero-tolerance policy on Sexual Exploitation and Abuse (SEA), and is the top contributor to the UN Trust Fund in support of victims of SEA, created by the Secretary-General in 2016. Finally, Italy provides peacekeepers with a wide range of training modules, including on human rights and international humanitarian law, protection of civilians, prevention of sexual and gender-based violence and on the women peace and security agenda.
The third line of action is promoting women as drivers for peace. We do not consider women simply as victims of conflict, but as key actors and drivers for peace to be involved in the entire cycle of peace, including conflict prevention and mediation. This is what Nadia Mura and Denis Mukwege, recently awarded with the Nobel Peace Prize, did with their passionate activity, turning the tragedy suffered by women and the violations of their human rights into a powerful message for transformative change. In this spirit, the full protection, empowerment and emancipation of women are integrated core priorities of the Italian Development Cooperation. Our development policies aim at capitalizing the role of women as protagonists in the development of their societies, continuing to promote their access to education, their rights, their transformative role and their entrepreneurial ability. We have also long supported all Security Council resolutions on Women, Peace and Security and we promote their implementation nationally, in the framework of our National Action Plan, as well as in all other international fora, including the EU, NATO and the G7.
We intend to further step up all these efforts during our term on the Human Rights Council for the period 2019-2021. We are committed to be the strongest voice for women’s rights in the HRC
Let me conclude by stressing an important message for us. The pursuit of gender equality is not just a matter for women: it is for everybody. We cannot succeed if only half of us are engaged. We need women and men, boys and girls. We all need to work together to make a cultural change to favor equality and create a new gender culture – a culture of inclusion and respect. You can count on Italy and on myself to achieve this goal.
I thank you.