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Gender Issues


Gender Issues

In the framework of our foreign policy’s traditional commitment to the promotion of human rights, one of Italy’s priorities at the United Nations is its action to foster gender equality. The preamble of the San Francisco Charter (1945) – the founding document of the United Nations – highlighted the importance of equal rights between men and women. In 1947 the first meeting was held, at Lake Success, of the Commission on the Status of Women (CSW), the advisory body that then consisted of fifteen women. From the very first sessions the CSW showed great spirit of initiative. During the negotiations of the Universal Declaration on Human Rights (1948), for example, the Commission prevented the use in the text of the term “man” as a synonym for “human being.”

Once it became a member of the Organization, Italy stood out for its growing contribution to the work of the United Nations in the field of gender policy. Italy never failed to raise its voice in the debate at the UN in those years in support of a greater role for women in society. In the thirty years that followed, our Country contributed actively to the adoption of historic documents of the Organization that recognize the political rights of women and promote the principles of conjugal equality and equal pay. The concluding step of this first phase was the adoption of the Convention for the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW, 1979).

It would take another ten years, however, before gender policies would become a priority on the political agenda of the United Nations. The breakthrough came at the Fourth World Conference on Women, which adopted the Beijing Declaration and its Platform of Action (1995). Since that historic moment, at the beginning of an era marked by profound geopolitical and social upheaval in the aftermath of the Cold War, the theme of women’s rights became a leitmotif in UN debates.Today there is no political, military, or economic question discussed at the United Nations that does not include consideration of the status of women. The development of Countries requires the full involvement of women in the decision-making processes of their relative societies. Pursuing this model whole-heartedly, over the past twenty years Italy has provided an extraordinary contribution to the negotiations on protecting the rights of women, the right to education and health for girls and adolescents, and the fight against gender-based violence.

Among the most heinous forms of violence against women is female genital mutilation. Since 2009, Italy, in coordination with the African Countries, has undertaken an intense effort to launch at the United Nations the campaign to abandon this practice. The results were not long in coming. In 2012 and 2014 the General Assembly adopted unanimously the first two resolutions for the elimination of this practice, committing Member States to intensify their measures to prevent and repress the phenomenon.
Another campaign being promoted by Italy concerns young victims of early and forced marriages. Our Country is, in fact, a member of the cross-regional “core group” of States who promoted the first substantial resolution to end child, early and forced marriages, which was adopted unanimously by the General Assembly in December 2014.

Our Country also distinguished itself recently for the contribution it provided in the field of preventing mass atrocities. Through the insertion of the UN’s new operative document for a parameter on the status of women, from now on the United Nations’ bodies must give due consideration also to the situation of women in assessments of risks of crimes in international crises.
Through the works of the General Assembly, the CSW, and CEDAW, and with the collaboration of UN Women – the UN organization created to promote gender equality, on whose Executive Board Italy sits – our Country continues to uphold the cause of promoting the status of women at the United Nations.

Consistent with this vocation, Italy is now studying the Post-2015 Development Agenda, proposing that a stand-alone goal on the empowerment of women, to be achieved worldwide by 2030, be inserted among the 17 that will constitute the final document.