52nd Session of the
COMMISSION ON THE STATUS OF WOMEN
“Financing for gender equality and the empowerment of women”
Statement by H.E. Maurits HASSANKHAN
Minister of Home Affairs
of the Republic of Suriname
27 February 2008
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My delegation is honored to address the Commission at this occasion at which we are considering the priority theme entitled “Financing for gender equality”. I would first of all congratulate you Mr. Chair and the other members of the Bureau on your election to guide the discussions during this session of the Commission and we pledge our full support and cooperation as we will deliberate these two weeks how to mobilize more resources for the promotion of gender equality and the empowerment of women.
I would also like to thank the Secretary-General for providing us with information on the priority theme and furthermore I would like to associate myself with the statement delivered by the distinguished representative of Antigua and Barbuda on behalf of the Group of 77 and China.
The international community on previous occasions has repeatedly committed itself to allocate resources for gender equality and the empowerment of women. The Secretary General rightly observes in his report to this Commission that notwithstanding our acknowledgement that gender equality makes good economic sense, we are still faced with the challenge that adequate resources have not been allocated.
Women, who make up more than half of the world’s population, have yet to experience that the lofty goals for gender equality and the empowerment of women are translated into concrete action and they have yet to reap the benefits of improved access to education and healthcare, including sexual and reproductive health, access to micro credit and finance, employment generation, representation of women in decision-making, etc.
In Suriname the Ministry of Home Affairs, with responsibility for gender affairs, has formulated in close cooperation with civil society and NGO’s an Integral Gender Action Plan which identifies several policy interventions, such as poverty eradication, voice and decision-making, human rights, education and training and health.
This ambitious policy initiative has an extensive budget, approved as a separate component of the budget of the Ministry of Home Affairs which is part of the overall State budget.
The Government of Suriname is aware of its responsibility to mobilize domestic resources to finance its economic and social development and therefore endeavours to earmark funds from the regular budget, however these allocations remain insufficient.
While we are not reneging on our responsibilities for increased resources, we have to be cognizant of global factors which impact on financing gender equality and the empowerment of women. The Government is often times challenged in trying to find the balance between debt servicing, low inflation targets on the one hand and public expenditures and social sector spending on health and education on the other.
It is hoped that with the recently concluded United Nations Development Assistance Framework (UNDAF), which constitutes a strategic framework for United Nations sponsored development assistance to Suriname, sufficient resources would be made available through coordinated actions from the United Nations system and our development partners towards accelerated progress of the millennium development goals, and in particular MDG3.
Recently the Ministry of Home Affairs, in cooperation with the European Commission and United Nations agencies in Suriname organized a workshop on gender and aid effectiveness. An important recommendation coming out of the discussions at the workshop was that of developing a methodology on gender responsive budgeting and to initiate this process as a pilot-project in one or two Ministries.
The Ministry of Agriculture, which has included gender mainstreaming in its sector plan, is likely to be the first Ministry under the pilot-project, mainly because many women are involved in small scale agriculture and impact of gender responsive budgeting could then be assessed on its effectiveness.
In adopting a self ….. approach the Ministry of Home Affairs acknowledges that many challenges remain in the promotion of gender equality and the empowerment of women. Besides insufficient financial resources, we also face challenges in lack of capacity with government officials and civil society, including NGO’s. The lack of sex-disaggregated data and analysis constraints the effective formulation and implementation of policies geared towards improving the situation and rights of women and moreover constraints our capacity to measure progress in allocating domestic resources. In this regard I would like to note that we are participating in a CARCOM regional statistical program aiming at integrating statistical data form different sources relating to all kinds of areas. This program provides the countries in the region with an opportunity to build capacity in the collection and analysis of social/gender statistics.
In closing Mr. Chairman,
Permit me to state that the discussions on this important issue during this session of the Commission on the Status of Women will undoubtedly reiterate the need to allocate adequate resources for gender equality and the empowerment of women.
Women all over the world remain hopeful that the international community will heed this call. If we all agree that investing in women is investing in development we will have to redouble our efforts in truly making the goals of gender equality and the empowerment of women, a reality.
Some developed countries have demonstrated their commitments towards allocating resources for official development assistance and we would like to express our appreciation for those efforts. We nevertheless call on other developed countries to also make their commitments, reached in particular in Monterrey at the International Conference on Financing for Development, a reality. In this regard we should guarantee that the follow-up meeting to review implementation of the Monterrey Consensus fully incorporates gender perspectives.
We can ill afford to continue the discussions on an issue of which the international community has already acknowledged its importance without exerting the necessary political will to really make it happen.
Thank you Mr. Chairman.