UNGA 72, Third Committee
Item 28 Advancement of Women
Statement of Finland
5 October 2017
H.E. Mr. Kai Sauer
Permanent Representative of Finland
to the United Nations
All over the world, women’s and girls' rights continue to be violated on a scale and magnitude that is unacceptable in this day and age. Of particular concern are the intersecting and multiple forms of discrimination faced by women and girls, especially those with disabilities. Too often, women and girls with disabilities have no say over key choices that affect their lives. This includes choices related to employment and education, and perhaps most importantly, choices related to their sexual and reproductive health.
Realizing the rights of women and girls with disabilities requires a paradigm shift in social norms and attitudes. Many states are still a long way from internalizing this. In Finland, we are continuing to explore ways to improve the self-determination of persons with disabilities as full members of communities in close cooperation with civil society.
The individual autonomy of women and girls with disabilities needs to be guaranteed. This lies at the very core of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. Many people are deprived of their legal capacity on the basis of disability and are therefore denied their fundamental right to make decisions. This is an area where difficulties in changing attitudes goes a long way in explaining the current lack of progress.
The 2030 Agenda has brought to our attention the gaps that remain in the realization of women’s and girls' rights. We need to focus resources and attention to ensuring women’s and girls' rights are respected everywhere, both in the public and private sphere. The international human rights framework provides the tools for their realization – what is lacking is action.
One agency that is doing its part to ensure action is taken, is UN Women. Since its establishment, UN Women has been a driving force in promoting normative change and advancing gender equality in the international arena, within the UN system and at the country level. Finland continues to be an active supporter of UN Women.
To achieve sustainable change, we have to be committed to it, and ensure the necessary resources are made available. One key area where all governments, including Finland, are struggling, is in tackling violence against women and girls – a persisting human rights violation all over the world. Many of the recommendations received and accepted by Finland in our Universal Periodic Review this year were related to violence against women. One key challenge that we are addressing is the shortage of facilities and services for women and girls who have experienced violence.
Finland welcomes the Spotlight initiative, a joint initiative between the EU and the UN, as a step change in investment towards eliminating violence against women.
When it comes to sexual and reproductive health and rights, we have also seen an increase in global investment in the past year. Finland is proud to be part of the She Decides initiative that is rolling out sexual and reproductive health services on a global scale. With the initative we want to protect the right of every woman and girl to make her own choices about her future and her body. For example, there is a real divide between the sexual and reproductive health services available for urban and rural women and girls. Denying women and girls the right to decide can have serious consequences. The leading cause of death of girls aged 15 to 19 worldwide is suicide, followed by pregnancy related causes.
To conclude, I would like to highlight the work done by the President of Finland in promoting women’s rights as one of the HeForShe IMPACT Champions. In this capacity he has made three personal change-making commitments related to ending violence against women, increasing women’s economic empowerment and implementing the UN Security Council Resolution 1325.
To ensure the rights of women and girls are respected everywhere, we all need to become champions of their rights.