Speech by State Secretary Pernilla Baralt at Commission on the Status of Women 2018


The General Assembly of the United Nations, New York, 14 mars 2018

Check against delivery.

Ms/Mr Chairperson,
Distinguished delegates.

It is an honour to be here. The UN is key in international efforts to
promote gender equality, and women's and girls' full enjoyment of
all human rights.

Sweden aligns itself with the statement made by Bulgaria on behalf
ofthe EU, and its Member States.

Sweden has a feminist government. The first feminist government in
the world that includes a feminist foreign policy. Like the UN
Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, we are proud feminists!
My delegation reflects the broad mandate, and scope, of Sweden's
policy for integrating gender equality in all areas of governance. I am
joined by representatives from a wide range of actors in society,
including civil society.

Governments are responsible for results in gender equality. We are
accountable —also for the lack of results. In order to combat
persistent inequalities the knowledge and perspectives of civil society
must be utilized. The fight for gender equality and women's and
girls' full enjoyment of human rights is a true multi-stakeholder
effort. We need each other.

We need the courageous: the human rights and gender equality
defenders, trade unionists, journalists,bloggers, media workers,
artists and publishers —who speak up for those without a voice.

Ladies and Gentlemen,
Gender equality is not only a fundamental matter of human rights,
democracy and social justice. It is also a driver and a prerequisite for
sustainable development. It is part of the solution to many ofthe
challenges we face nationally, locally as well as globally.

The progress made towards gender equality has contributed to
Sweden's high levels of employment and economic growth. But it
has not happened by itself; it is largely the result of political struggle
and decisions, together with hard work and pressure from a strong
civil society.

Such decisions are for example individual taxation, equal division of
parental leaveand affordable childcare.

To advance gender equality, there is a need for follow-up, analysis,
coordination and support. Therefore, a Gender Equality Agency was
set up in January this year. It will contribute to strategic, cohesive
and sustainable governance and the effective implementation of
gender equality policy.

Ladies and Gentlemen,
Violence against women and girls is a global pandemic. We must
treat it that way,and tackle all its root causes, symptoms and forms.
We must prevent violence,including honour-related violence and
oppression, before it happens. Men's violence against women must
come to an end.

The Metoo movement showed that discrimination against women
and girls continues. Sweden demands zero tolerance, and will work
hard to ensure that sexual harassment, and abuse, will not happen. If
it occurs, we will combat it.

The Secretary-General's report on the priority theme states that "the
challenges and opportunities facing rural women and girlsare
addressed in terms ofrealizing their rights (...) to a life free of
violence and harmful practices and to (...) education and health,
inclusiveofsexualand reproductive health and rights."

Sweden will continue to uphold the rights of women and girls,
including sexual and reproductive health and rights. Women and
girls in rural areas,as well as in urban settings, must be ensured an
adequate standard of living,access to decent work, education and
health, including sexualand reproductive health and rights, and a life
free of violence and discrimination. No woman or man, boy or girl
is to be left behind.

We are proud to have co-launched the She-Decides movement. It
has evolved as a global movement for women's and girls' right to decide over their own bodies. We welcome governments and other stakeholders to join in.

Ladies and Gentlemen,
Global challenges require global cooperation, and Sweden defends a
rules-based international order. We have completed our first year in
the UN Security Council. The agenda on women, peace and security
is a top priority for us. Research shows that equal representation of
women and men in peace processes contributes to sustainable peace.
Sweden makes a difference! Sweden negotiated the resolution on
ceasefire in Syria. We have a leading role on issues concerning
children in armed conflicts.

Sweden has increased the development assistance to organizations
focusing on the enjoyment of human rights for women and girls.
Thousands of midwives receive training. Millions of women are
enabled to give birth with the help of trained personnel. These are
fundamental issues—both to protect women's and girls' rights,and
for sustainabledevelopment. I sincerely hope that we will be able to
agree on strong language on SRHR here at CSW.

Let us aim for a resolute reaffirmation of the 2030 Agenda, and of
the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action. The adoption of
the 2030 Agenda was a victory for UN-led multilateralism, and
Sweden is fully committed to ensure its effective implementation.

Ladies and Gentlemen,
Gender equality is still an uphill battle, and women's and girls' rights
are violated across the world. To achieve gender equality,we also
need the commitment ofmen and boys. Gender equality contributes
to a better life for all.

Today there is an increased determination for change. Women and
girls are mobilizing for a better world, for an equal future, for a fair

The window is open. The moment is now. Let us utilize this
momentum for change to transform the lives of women and girls in
all settings, rural and urban. Sweden is ready to seize the moment
and stand up for women's and girls' rights in the interest of
democracy, sustainable development, and a world where every girl
and boy can develop to their full potential.

Thank you!