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65th Session of the UN Commission on the Status of Women (CSW65) - Ministerial round tables



65th Session of the UN Commission on the Status of Women (CSW65) - Ministerial round tables

Statement delivered by the Minister for Equal Opportunities, Prof. Elena Bonetti, at the First Ministerial Roundtable of the 65th Session of the UN Commission on the Status of Women on "Getting to parity: good practices towards achieving women's full and effective participation and decision-making in public life." ---

Mr President,

Dear colleagues,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

I am truly honoured to take part in this Ministerial Roundtable with distinguished representatives from all over the world.

The participation of women in decision-making processes, to be full and effective, requires a renewed and unprecedented commitment, highlighted and made even more urgent by the pandemic crisis: it calls first and foremost for a decisive consolidation of personal and collective awareness about the role that women can play in boosting our economic and social growth. The United Nations and other international fora are and can be today an important driver in promoting effective gender equality, including by supporting women’s empowerment and thus by supporting their talent and leadership.

The pandemic, which has affected us globally, has seen women in the front line dealing with the emergency: in health and social services but also at home, with an increased burden of care - often unpaid. Moreover, women have been particularly affected by the pandemic’s repercussions on society and the economy, having lost their jobs more easily than men.

For these reasons, on the road to recovery we need to follow two paths: a preliminary path to stop the spread of the virus; a second one, equally important, to allow women to fully deploy their potential and contribute together with men to build the future we want. Italy is currently engaged on both of these fronts at the domestic and international levels.

Since the outbreak of the pandemic, Italy has proactively called for a multi-dimensional and multilateral response to COVID-19, based on the core principles of solidarity, inclusivity and cooperation. We have been founders, funders and co-creators of the ACT-Accelerator and the Covax Facility, to which we allocated more than 100 million USD to ensure and accelerate universal and equitable access to vaccines, especially for 92 low- and middle-income Countries. Our priority is to leave no one behind, because - against this virus - no one might be safe until everyone is safe.

The Italian Prime Minister, Professor Mario Draghi, has given a clear direction to the newly established Italian Government: women’s empowerment is the key to achieving true gender equality and effective and full participation of women in public life. It’s now the time to move forward with commitment and vision.

As G20 President for 2021, Italy has placed women’s empowerment at the core of our discussions as a cross-cutting priority, touching upon all areas: from education to employment, from the environment to digital innovation, from health to culture. For the first time, a G20 ministerial conference will be dedicated exclusively to women’s empowerment.

We are planning to strengthen sets of coherent measures to increase the number of women in all sectors of employment; to overcome barriers to career advancement, particularly in the fastest growing fields (STEM, computer science, cloud computing, data and artificial intelligence); and to combat gender stereotypes that prevent women from achieving leadership responsibilities.

According to a systemic, coherent and strategic approach, for the first time Italy is adopting a National Strategy for Gender Equality through an open and participatory process involving all relevant social players, from institutions to social partners and associations. We believe it is crucial for the future of our Country to ensure equal opportunities for all, for effectively freeing up women’s confined energies and for implementing actions aimed at their economic independence: this is the key to success and when it fails real economic violence persists.

Experience shows us that targeted interventions can also actively help women’s participation in public life. For example, legislation on equal access to management and supervisory bodies of listed and public companies was introduced into Italian law ten years ago. This legislation has set a target of 40% of women on company boards starting in 2020.

The domestic legislative framework also promotes gender equality in national and regional political representation. Specific laws have increased the presence of women in public life, both in politics and in institutions, guaranteeing gender quotas in electoral lists and in enjoying the right to vote, put under governmental monitoring at the local level. I would like to highlight the fact that, to date, 36% of women have been elected to the Italian Parliament, with a growing trend.

I thank you for your attention and I will listen carefully to best practices and lessons learned of my colleagues, hoping that next year we can meet in person in a Covid-free world recognising the extraordinary and tenacious efforts of many women scientists, to reiterate the relevance of the status of women and to decide how we want to change the world for them.