“The Advancement of Women towards the Millennium Development Goals”
It is a distinct honour for me to address this gathering today. On my own behalf and on behalf of my delegation I would like to express gratitude to the Government and people of Guatemala for the warm welcome extended to me and my delegation upon arrival in this beautiful country. In accepting the invitation of Her Excellency Sonia Escobedo, Secretary General of the Presidential Secretariat of Women of Guatemala, I had the confidence that the authorities of Guatemala would ensure excellent meeting facilities and a cordial atmosphere to conduct our business.
I pay tribute to the work professionally carried out by Cuba as Chair of the Movement and we wish them all the best as they prepare to hand over the Chairmanship to Egypt, later this year, who can also count on our support.
I express the hope that our deliberations these two days will result in action-oriented outcomes for the cause of promoting gender equality and the empowerment of women and I therefore pledge my delegation’s full support and cooperation.
The theme for this meeting”The Advancement of Women towards the Millennium Development Goals” is well-chosen and opportune, given the reality that the timeline of 2015 in realizing the MDGs is vastly approaching.
Suriname has committed itself, along with the rest of the international community, to achieve the Millennium Development Goals as guiding principles for its development policy and programs. The MDGs are therefore integrated in our national development policy framework, which also recognizes the need for building close partnerships with civil society and the private sector in order to attain sustainable economic and social development for our people.
However, aligning national policy and development programs according to internationally established standards, does not necessarily ensure the attainment of the MDGs by 2015. In each country conditions are different and accomplishing internationally established goals and standards remains therefore a highly challenging task. Moreover in today’s interdependent world, international conditions present development emergencies in many countries, especially in developing countries. The effects of the current financial crisis, ongoing conflicts, environmental degradation, the spread of communicable and non communicable diseases, high debt burden and unfair trade practices are constraining the efforts of, in particular developing countries, to pursue sustainable economic and social development of their peoples.
Despite our commitment towards gender equality and the empowerment of women, we have to acknowledge that women still face challenges in the labour market, especially in the private sector, while they are still under represented at the highest levels of decision-making, which further constraints their contribution to economic and social development.
The Government of Suriname has ensured to place emphasis on gender based vulnerability and equality in its Integral Gender Action Plan. A number of policy priorities were identified of which I would like to mention a few, namely, eradicating poverty, voice and decision-making, education and training, health, combating domestic and sexual violence, and environment.
A monitoring group, comprising representatives of Government and non-state actors, has been established. This group is primarily tasked to guide an accelerated, effective and results-oriented implementation of our National Gender Action Plan. The results of a preliminary analysis have shown that special attention is required in the areas of institutional strengthening and financing gender equality.
Despite the challenges, it would be remiss of me not to highlight some achievements, namely the signing of a Covenant on domestic violence between different Government Ministries. With the valuable assistance of NGO’s draft legislation on domestic violence was prepared and is now currently awaiting approval of our Parliament. In educational field, we can say that women are doing much better than men, and most of the graduates of the University are women. Recently a number of seven female judges have been appointed.
Others have rightly observed that gender equality is not only a goal in itself but a precondition for the achievement of all the other MDG’s. Our highest political leaders have committed themselves to promoting gender equality and the empowerment of women as effective ways to ensuring sustainable economic and social development.
Women all over the world remain hopeful that the international community will act on their promises to allocate increased and adequate resources for gender equality and the empowerment of women, in order to improve their quality of life.
Our shared objectives require more than a re-affirmation of the importance of the MDG’s or the availability of financial resources. It requires political will which is a condition sine qua non in our efforts to achieve our commitments. Increased international cooperation is in this regard of critical importance.
South-South cooperation is a vehicle to be utilized to strengthen the Movement as a whole and to increase the ability of the individual member states to advance. We should better utilize our numerical strength to advance our guiding principles as well as the principles and purposes of the United Nations Charter.
As we look towards 2015, we will have to redouble our efforts in fulfillment of the MDG promises in general, and promoting gender equality and the empowerment of women in particular.
Suriname stands ready, to join the members of the Movement and the rest of the international community, in complementing national efforts and creating strong global partnerships for accelerated actions to improve living conditions, wellbeing and opportunities for the many disadvantaged peoples throughout the globe.