Global leaders’ meeting on gender equality and women’s empowerment

Bern, 27.09.2015 - Speech by President Sommaruga at the UN Sustainable Development Summit in New York – Check against delivery.

Assistant Secretary-General,
Your Excellencies,
Ladies and gentlemen,

It is a great pleasure to celebrate with you the 20th anniversary of the historic Beijing Declaration and its Platform for Action.

Twenty years ago, the Beijing Declaration laid the foundation for a society that is sensitive to gender equality, and provided us with the tools we need for a sustainable development agenda that benefits everyone. This was 20 years ago. I was 35 years old and welcomed this Declaration as a historic victory that affected and touched me personally. With this Declaration, the role of women in the world changed. Even today - 20 years later - I am still grateful for it.

Nevertheless, twenty years later, we still have a long way to go:

  • Today, there are still countries where women fear reprisals for advocating women's rights and fighting for their freedom of action and expression.
  • Today, degrading treatment and violence against women and girls continue to be used as weapons of war to humiliate the enemy. And women are often doubly victimised. First when they suffer maltreatment and abuse - and then once more, when they are shunned by their own people.
  • Today, access to basic public services such as medical care or clean, safe health infrastructures is not always guaranteed. This is unacceptable.

Switzerland is convinced that achieving gender equality is an essential condition for abolishing poverty and contributing to sustainable, inclusive economic growth.

The time has come to include women and girls as agents and drivers of change.

As a government, we also have the political duty to link implementation of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action with the 2030 Agenda, in order to progress their goals, which are complementary, at national level.

The translation of these efforts into domestic policy also remains a priority. Our National Action Plan for gender equality revealed last year that there is still progress to be made in Switzerland.

We are therefore making strenuous efforts in particular to eradicate wage discrimination, create a better framework for reconciling work and family life and to fight domestic violence.

Switzerland wishes to further strengthen its commitment to equality and is dedicated to continuing its support of UN Women's work. For this reason, we are increasing our funding by USD 50 million for the 2015-2017 period. We are also keen to see all other United Nations entities whose mandates we support include a gender perspective in their respective activities.

Finally, Switzerland considers it crucial that international commitments be accompanied by robust monitoring procedures. As it is responsible for monitoring the implementation of the Beijing Platform for Action, the Commission on the Status of Women must play a central role in this matter.

Ladies and gentlemen,

Gender equality, the realisation of women's rights and the empowerment of women are goals to be achieved by 2030.

This task may seem daunting. But by joining forces transregionally and effectively involving both civil society and the UN, we can meet these challenges together - guided by the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action and with the new impetus given by the 2030 Agenda.

Thank you.

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