Permanent Mission of the Kingdom of the Netherlands to the UN, United States

Statement by Her Excellency Ms Lilianne Ploumen, 58th Session of the Commission on the Status of Women

Statement by Her Excellency Ms Lilianne Ploumen Minister for Foreign Trade and Development Cooperation of the Kingdom of the Netherlands 58th Session of the Commission on the Status of Women New York, 10 March 2014

Thank you, Mr Chairman/Madam Chair,

Today, almost 15 years after we committed ourselves to achieving the Millennium Development Goals, we are reviewing what these goals have done to reduce gender inequality and violations of women’s rights.

Much has been achieved since the start of the MDG’s in the year 2000. We should embrace the progress made and pay tribute to those who were at the forefront. I think of Nobel Prize winners like Ellen Johnson Sirleaf and Leymah Gbowee from Liberia or Tawakul Karman from Jemen, women who successfully claimed a bigger role in their societies.

There were many others, less known, but equally brave and successful. Like the mothers and daughters who stood up against sexual violence in India.

The women in Syria who, in the midst of the worst violence we can imagine, stand up for the future of their children. I saw them take the lead in refugee camps in Jordania and Lebanon. Or the under aged girls who stood up and refused to be married off, to men up to four times their age.

And look at us - the privileged ones assembled here in New York. Many of us have daughters who can go to school, finish their exams and choose their own destiny.

These are the good stories, and we should take them as an inspiration!

Above all we are here to reconfirm things we already know for a fact. Investing in stronger participation by women in the economy literally pays off. Fact. And so would a greater role of women in conflict sensitive situations. Fact.

We should bear these facts in mind when we look beyond the current MDG’s. Because these facts show us where the focus of the post-2015-framework should be: the political and economic empowerment of women, combating violence against women, and sexual and reproductive health and rights. These should be at the heart of the new agenda. And we can make it happen.

There is one crucial difference between the MDG’s and the post-2015 agenda: the latter must be universal in its scope and should be universally upheld. Let us be clear: there is no north – south divide in assessing the status of women.

Back home, in Europe, we have grave tasks ahead of us as well. Just last week the EU Agency for Fundamental Rights reported that out of 42,000 women in 28 countries in the European Union surveyed, one in three was victim of some kind of abuse.

In 2013 the WHO published roughly the same figures on physical or sexual violence against women worldwide. The position of women is a global issue. It is imperative we learn from each other’s best practices, regardless of geographical boundaries.

Personally, I am much impressed by a young Masai woman from Kenya, Nice Nalantei. She forged new coalitions to achieve important changes in her community. She did this in a way that inspires me in my day-to-day work as a cabinet minister, as a Dutch citizen and as a woman living in a multicultural neighbourhood of Amsterdam. She also inspires me as a participant at this crucial CSW conference.

I end with an appeal for consensus in the CSW on two positions supporting the negotiations on the post-2015 agenda. One: a stand-alone goal for gender equality and women’s empowerment. Two: the thorough integration of gender equality into the other goals and targets.

As an individual, and as a woman, I add: we have so much to gain. It is our personal autonomy, and that of next generations – men and women, boys and girls – that is at stake here: freedom of choice in all important aspects of life such as sexuality, including sexual orientation and gender identity, education and work. Getting this right is within reach. Anything less is a missed opportunity.

Thank you.