Ladies and Gentlemen,
“All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights.” Thus states Article 1 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
Over seventy years ago, the drafting committee of the declaration, although dominated by men, had no doubts: all human beings are born equal.
And yet, if we take a look at where we stand now, it seems as if some human beings were more equal than others:
- Only 25 % of parliamentarians world-wide are women
- A meagre 8 % of CEOs are female
- Women earn less
- They do three times as much unpaid care and domestic work as men
- And: every third woman world-wide has experienced physical or sexual violence, mostly by an intimate partner.
And let’s be frank: COVID-19 has made things even worse.
This situation, particularly the rise in violence against women, has been called a “shadow pandemic”.
But let’s face it: The only thing that makes this a shadow pandemic is our reaction to it. Because: Violence against women is not hidden in the shadow. Too often, it is simply being ignored.
And violence against women is not some sort of virus that suddenly overcomes women. It is, quite literally, man-made.
Over 70 years after the drafting of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights one thing is clear: Equal rights and equal participation of men and women are still a vision, not a reality. Last week’s CSW conference clearly shows this.
Therefore, I commend Mexico’s initiative to form this Group of Friends for Gender Equality.
And I am delighted to attend its launch today. Only through coordinated efforts and by learning from each other’s best practices will we advance gender equality: in multilateral fora, but also at home. It is no wonder the initiative was first presented in the Alliance for Multilateralism.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Germany’s national Gender Equality Strategy has very concrete objectives:
- equal distribution of paid work and unpaid care work between men and women
- equal participation in economy and society as well as in politics and the public administration
- and: better prevention of as well as support for survivors gender-based violence
In January of this year, the German Government presented a bill that establishes a compulsory quota for women in management boards of a wide range of companies. I’m confident that the German Parliament will adopt it this year.
And just last month we also released our third National Action Plan on Women, Peace and Security. Its implementation will be a big step for women’s full, equal and meaningful participation at all stages and all levels of inclusive peace processes.
To give you just one example: We will support the Women’s Peace and Humanitarian Fund’s efforts with more than 9 million Euros. 2 million Euros are earmarked for women’s participation in crisis prevention.
Gender equality means nothing more, but also nothing less than to guarantee women the same amount and quality of participation and representation as men. Gender equality is a human right. And what is more: we know from numerous studies that societies where all persons have equal rights are safer, more stable, more peaceful and economically more successful.
Therefore, pursuing gender equality is not only a human rights duty. It is also plain and simple a matter of common sense.
And I can tell you: I am delighted to be among colleagues and friends today who have decided to join forces to help common sense thrive.