Today, on International Women’s Day, we celebrate the achievements regarding substantive gender equality and the progress accomplished so far in securing the rights of women and girls all over the globe. At the same time, we must acknowledge that much remains to be done until women and girls can fully exercise their human rights. This statement focuses on five key areas.
- Women and girls have the right to live free from violence and discrimination. However, violence against women and girls is the most common human rights violation as almost 1 in 3 women has experienced, at least once in her life, physical and/or sexual violence – a fact unchanged for over a decade. In conflict areas, women and girls are the main targets of sexual and gender-based violence. Too often, this predominantly male-perpetrated violence is normalized and goes unpunished. This has to end. Access to comprehensive support services and to justice for victims and survivors of sexual and gender-based violence has to be ensured.
- Girls and women are the sole ones to decide about their body. Sexual and reproductive health and rights are a fundamental part of human rights. We must support women and girls in exercising these rights, including the right to make their own decision whether, when and how many children to have. For this purpose, it is key to ensure that women and girls have comprehensive access to sexual and reproductive health and rights-related information, education, and services.
- Access to basic services, such as quality education, decent housing and healthcare services, for all women and girls is essential for equitable societies. Too many women and girls are denied these rights, exposed to exploitation and marginalization, especially when facing multiple, structural and intersecting forms of discrimination. At the same time, women’s economic empowerment must be supported for them to realize their rights and gender equality.
- The intensification of sexual harassment, bullying and hate speech against women and girls, including online, requires immediate and resolute action. Women in the public sphere, such as journalists, human rights defenders and politicians are particularly targeted. We encourage strong measures to address this phenomenon. Perpetrators must be held accountable.
- Ensuring women’s full, equal, effective and meaningful participation in all spheres of public and private life, including their political representation and leadership in decision-making processes, is essential to achieving gender equality.
To conclude, we reaffirm our commitment to ensure substantive gender equality and the full protection and respect of the human rights of all women and girls. We call on all States to do the same. Gender equality and equity not only benefit women and girls, but all of society, including men and boys.
This joint statement is signed by the following Embassies and Representations of international institutions (in alphabetical order): Albania, Argentina, Austria, Belgium, Canada, Croatia, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Georgia, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Japan, Lebanon, Lithuania, Netherlands, North Macedonia, Norway, Portugal, Republic of Korea, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, United States, Ukraine, and the EU Commission Representation in Romania.