Stjórnarfundur UN Women - Ræða Íslands

UN Women Executive Board

Annual Session

29 May 2012

Statement by Iceland


Mr. President, 

Let me at the outset, thank the Executive Director, Madam Bachelet, for her informative intervention this morning and her leadership and vision for UN Women´s future.

Iceland is a committed supporter of UN Women and we are encouraged by the stride UN Women has made towards strengthening its internal capacities necessary for effective programming. Although the primary responsibility of ensuring gender equality and women’s empowerment lies with Member States, UN Women plays a vital role in this regard, both within its normative and operational mandate.

In the field, we believe the regional architecture proposed by UN Women will strengthen its capacity to fulfil its mandate to lead, coordinate and promote the accountability of the UN system and in identifying ways to strengthen gender activities and gender mainstreaming on the ground.

Mr. President, 

I would like to touch upon two of UN Women´s focus areas:  Peace and Security, and Leadership and Participation

Firstly, UN Women’s first year of operation has been marked with political and economic change in many regions, most notably perhaps in North Africa and the Middle East.  We have witnessed women playing an instrumental role in demanding political, economic and social justice in their societies.

There is a reason, however, to be concerned that womens particiption in the call for freedom and justice is not appropriately reflected in the results.  It is imperative that we address this and find ways to continue to ensure women’s rights and women’s empowerment.

In this regard, the implementation of UN Security Council Resolutions on women, peace and security is of critical importance, not least within the UN System which has recently been taking on additional missions in promoting peace and security.  Here UN Women have a role to play, as an advocate to ensure “gender consciousness” within the system.  We encourage UN Women to continue to engage with relevant actors. We also take this opportunity to urge Member States to implement the UNSC resolutions on women, peace and security and safeguard the rights of women to participate in conflict resolution and peace building, and be protected against violence during and in the aftermath of conflict.

Secondly, on the topic of leadership and participation, a successful outcome of the Rio+20 conference on sustainable development, will to a large extent depend on its conclusions on the leadership and participation of women. Iceland is placing special emphasis on gender equality in the Rio+20 negotiations. In our view, gender equality and women´s empowerment must be mainstreamed into the outcome document and women’s priorities and special needs, taken into consideration.

In this regard we applaud the efforts made by UN Women to fulfil its normative role by providing assistance to delegations on how the outcome document can be strengthened in the field of gender equality and women´s empowerment.  We encourage UN Women to continue to strengthen its support to inter-governmental bodies and Member States.

It cannot be reiterated often enough that the inclusion and participation of women and girls in all spheres of society is essential for political, economic and social development.

Whatever the context – women´s active participation is critical and UN Women´s continued focus on the issue therefore essential.

In concluding, I would like to echo what was said earlier by the distinghuised representative of Norway, when she expressed concerns about the negotiating environment at the last session of the CSW, including on sexual and reproductive rights, and the important role of UN Women as advocates for women rights and gender equality.

Thank you, Mr. President.

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