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Statement delivered by Ambassador Carsten Staur to the UN in Geneva at the side-event “Beijing20+ and Gender Equality” in the margin of the HRC29

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Over the last 20 years the Beijing Platform for Action has been a cornerstone in the global efforts for the empowerment of women and girls. The Beijing Platform for Action set out a roadmap towards a world in which every woman and girl can exercise her freedoms, her choices, and realize all her rights. This includes her right to live free from violence, her right to control over her own body, to go to school, to participate fully and freely in political processes and to earn equal pay for equal work.

The Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action are important instruments to create understanding of and promote the role of gender equality in society. The 20th anniversary for their adoption is an opportunity for governments and other stake holders to reinforce commitments on the advancement of the human rights of women.
2015 is an important year for Danish women and for Denmark. We celebrate that women since 1915 - the last one hundred years - have had the right to vote in and run for political elections. This major change came about with an amendment to the Danish constitution in 1915. And Denmark became one of the very first countries in the world where women’s struggle led to obtaining this fundamental right.

In many areas of the Beijing Platform for Action, countries throughout the world have advanced. But here, 20 years later we still need to remind ourselves that there is no time or place for complacency. Challenges remain in all 12 critical areas of concern and new obstacles for women’s empowerment have emerged since the Beijing conference.
Unfortunately, the world is a long way from achieving gender equality and women’s empowerment. And poverty will not be a thing of the past without significant and rapid improvements to the lives of women and girls in all countries. There can be no progress and sustainable development as long as there is discrimination and violence against women. We will not realize our full potential if women and girls continue to be held back.

All states must remain committed to the promotion, protection and fulfilment of all human rights and to the full and effective implementation of the Beijing Platform for Action and the Programme of Action of the International Conference on Population and Development.

Right now we are entering the final stage of deciding on the new post-2015 development agenda and the universal sustainable development goals. These SDGs will set the course, also for women’s empowerment, for the next 15 years.

We need to ensure every woman’s and girl’s right to decide freely over their own body, if, when and with whom to have children and the right to a life free from coercion, violence and discrimination.

The Beijing Platform for Action is as valid and inspiring today as it was in 1995.