International Convention on the Role of National Gender Equality Machinery for a More Equal Society for All, Opening Remarks

22 Mar 2012

Shahid Najam,
UN Resident Coordinator/UNDP Resident Representative

Excellency the Prime Minister Mr. Recep Erdoğan,
Excellency the Speaker of Turkish Grand National Assembly, Mr. Cemil Çiçek,
Honorable Chair of the Equal Opportunities Commission of the Men and Women,
Honorable Minister Madame Fatma Şahin,
Esteemed Members of the Parliament,
Distinguished Guests, Ladies and Gentlemen;

It is with immense pleasure and privilege that I wish to Join Madam AZIZE SIBEL GÖNÜL, CHAIRPERSON OF THE EQUAL OPPORTUNITIES COMMISSION, TURKISH GRAND NATIONAL ASSEMBLY to welcome you all to the International Convention on the role of National Gender Equality Machinery for a More Equal Society for All. This indeed is an extremely important event, for it brings together, scholars and statesmen and academics and experts to exchange experience, knowledge and best practices on the roles and goals of national gender equality machinery in different societies and countries around the globe.

We believe  your active participation, your country specific perspectives and invaluable contribution will enrich the discussions in effectively articulating the vitally significant role which the national gender equality machinery plays in promoting and ensuring gender equality and in integrating gender into policies, programming and decision processes.

The role of the Parliament and the Parliamentary Commissions, needless to say, will constitute the kernel of the discourse especially in engendering a transformative change; a transformation which will  allow both the state and the society to fully harness the enormous reservoir of talent, potential, energy and resource which the women represent.

Given the size and scale of the problems, it is extremely difficult, well nigh impossible, to emancipate the humanity from the scourges of hunger and poverty, disempowerment and deprivation and disease and discrimination without fully benefiting from the participation of women, on equal terms with men, in various walks of life.

The United Nations Convention on Elimination of Discrimination Against Women, popularly known as CEDAW, serves as a framework; as an international bill of rights for women to end discrimination against women in all its forms and manifestations.

It envisions a world – a world without distinction, exclusion or restriction made on the basis of sex;

A world which does not impair nor nullify the recognition, enjoyment or exercise by women of fundamental human rights and freedoms in the political, economic, social, cultural, civil or any other field.

By accepting the Convention, States commit themselves to undertake a series of measures to end discrimination against women:

• to incorporate the principle of equality of men and women in their legal system and abolish all discriminatory laws;
• to establish systems and institutions to ensure the effective protection of women against discrimination; and
• to ensure elimination of all acts of discrimination against women by persons, organizations or enterprises.

Countries that have ratified or acceded to the Convention are legally bound to put these provisions into sound practices.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

UNDP is one of the lead agencies in promoting gender equality and mainstreaming gender. It works with the national counterparts and partners in identifying their country specific solutions to address existing gender inequalities. In doing so, it brings the global best practices and experiences to bear on the national processes while fully respecting the local cultural and anthropological perspectives and contexts. Indeed UNDP endeavors to promote a common understanding of the issues surrounding gender equality and facilitates adoption and implementation of successful solutions through full ownership and stewardship of the national governments, stakeholders and entities.

Given our comparative and competitive advantage in this important area, today we have the privilege to host you here in Ankara, in cooperation with the Equal Opportunities Commission of Men and Women of Turkish Grand National Assembly. Turkey has made tremendous strides and initiated some groundbreaking endeavors in the field of gender equality. We are indeed excited to work with our national partners in Turkey and fully committed to advancing the policy dialogue and exchange of experience for a better world for all – a world where women become equal partners with men in ensuring and safeguarding world peace and security, development and prosperity and human rights and respect for all - irrespective of color or creed, sex or age and race of religion. Let us resolve to bequeath that equal world to our posterity and the generations to come.  

I thank you for your attention, and wish you a very successful Convention.