Introductory remarks by Erkki Tuomioja, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Finland, at the event on Freedom from Violence for Every Woman and Girl: A Priority for the Post-2015 Agend, Organized by the Permanent Missions of Finland and Liberia, and UN Women, in New York on 25 September 2013
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Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen,
On my behalf I would like to welcome you to this event that Finland has the honour to host together with Liberia and UN Women on a very important topic of preventing and ending violence against women and girls and how it should be a central issue on the post-2015 agenda.
More than half of world's population is women. The gravest injustice is to ignore them just because of their sex and gender and to discriminate against their rights at international, regional, national or local level. All their rights must be respected, civil and political rights as well as economic, social and cultural rights, not forgetting their sexual and reproductive rights. The most serious of those injustices is violence against them under any circumstances, be it domestic violence or violence in conflicts where sexual and gender based violence is used as tactics of war. Rape and other forms of serious sexual violence in armed conflicts are war crimes. There can be no impunity for these crimes. Victims need access to justice, security, protection and services.
Sexual and gender based violence is an impediment to peace and security and a human rights issue. And ultimately it is also a serious impediment to sustainable development. Empowerment of women is a crucial factor in sustaining long term development. Promotion of the process based on Security Council resolution 1325 and related resolutions address the issues of women, peace and security, including gender-based violence in conflicts. Finland supports and promotes the comprehensive and balanced implementation of Security Council resolution 1325 and the five other resolutions related to it. Over 40 countries have national action plans - Finland as one of them - to implement these resolutions. What is needed now is more attention to freedom from violence against women and girls in achieving sustainable development now and beyond 2015. To eradicate violence against women and girls everybody’s commitment is needed.
In Finland we take gender equality seriously. Gender equality is a significant societal goal in Finland. It must be taken into account in all aspects of public decision-making and activities. If asked to give only one reason for Finland’s status as the least failed state in the world I would answer that it is gender equality and the empowerment of women. But being least failed does not rule out the need to do better, and one of the areas that needs special attention also in my country is violence against women which continues to be a severe problem.
The Finnish Government’s five-year Action Plan aims to reduce violence against women by seeking to influence attitudes and behaviour. This is the starting point for change. Measures will be taken in cooperation with various administrative sectors to prevent interpersonal and domestic violence against women, with the aim of reducing suffering as well as the costs of violence caused to the victims, employers and municipalities. Services for the victims of interpersonal, domestic and sexual violence will be enhanced. Implementation of the action plan to reduce violence against women will continue. The amount of shelter services will be increased to promote regional equality.
We are committed to the implementation of our Action Plan by 2015 and to securing the necessary resources for this purpose by assisting victims and reforming social legislation. Different actors, groups and regions will be taken in to account in this process.
To complete our legal framework, Finland commits herself to ratifying the Convention on Preventing and Combating Violence against Women of the Council of Europe by the end of 2013. In January Finland organised together with the Council of Europe a sub-regional seminar to promote its ratification.
We are gathered here to discuss how to strengthen our commitment to prevent and end violence against women and girls and to put it prominently in the development agenda as a key factor for sustainable development. On my behalf I welcome the Minister of Gender and Development of Liberia, the Minister of International Development of Finland and the new Executive Director of UN Women as well as Professor Aziza Ahmed to address different aspects of this important matter. I wish you successful and productive discussions.