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Statement delivered by H.E. Ambassador Ib Petersen, Permanent Representative of Denmark to the UN at the Annual Session of the UN Women Executive Board, 19 June 2018 in New York

20.06.2018  22:14

(Check against delivery)

Thank you, Mdm. President, for giving me the floor and thank you to the Executive Director for your inspiring statement.

Also, a warm welcome to the UN Women family, particularly pleased and proud to welcome on board my fellow Scandinavian, Ms. Åsa Regnér.

I want to begin by commending UN Women’s management and its dedicated staff for the progress achieved over the past four years (2014-2017). The results, you have achieved, are life changing for millions of women and girls around the world. Let me highlight a few.

Since 2014, UN Women, in collaboration with partners, supported the adoption of policy frameworks for women’s economic empowerment in 41 countries with a combined female population of over 2 billion.

Over the same period, UN Women also championed the strengthening of legislation to combat violence against women and girls in 52 countries with a combined female population of over 1.5 billion.

The critical importance of UN Women is also clear having influenced 43 countries, with a combined female population of almost 1.5 billion, to increase their budget allocations for gender equality and women’s empowerment.

These results may not be as concrete as providing vaccines but we must not forget the importance of changing the legal frameworks that are limiting the opportunities and rights of women and girls. As I said in my introduction, those efforts are life changing for millions of women and girls around the world.

At the same time, despite these impressive results, this is no time for complacency. While we see progress on some fronts, we also see an erosion of some gains.

In 2017, the World Economic Forum  estimated that at the current rate of progress it will take 100 years to close the overall gender gap. This is 17 years longer than they predicted in 2016 and the first time since the World Economic Forum began publishing its gender gap report in 2006 that the “slow but steady progress” has been halted.

And while we work to close the gender gap, the world is missing out! Therefore, we need to reinforce our efforts and we need a strong UN Women to help us.

Therefore, allow me, Mdm. President, to touch on some issues that Denmark sees as of critical importance for UN Women’s ability to push the gender equality agenda forward.

We welcome the commitment expressed by the Executive Director. There will be no effective development results without a more coordinated and cooperative UN. Less than a month ago, all UN Member States adopted the new resolution on reform of the UN Development System.

Now it is time for us all to join forces to support the implementation of this resolution, so that the UN Development System can reach its full potential.

One of the key conclusions in the evaluation of UN Women’s contribution to women’s political participation and leadership is that UN Women’s ability to effectively implement its coordination mandate was hindered by different interpretations of the mandate and division of labour among UN actors; lack of policy frameworks; and resource imbalances. Most of these factors are inherent to the UN System and require joint UN System action to solve. The reform provides us with a unique opportunity to address some of these challenges.

And as you mentioned yourself, UN Women is itself a product of Member States’ resolve towards greater efficiency and better results. Denmark expects UN Women to draw on its own lessons and do its part in implementing the reform, loyally and in close and constructive cooperation with the Secretary General and sister organizations.

For UN Women to be successful in its mission, partnerships are key. Partnerships with partner countries, donors, civil society, sister organizations, the private business sector and other stakeholders. UN Women may be one of the smaller agencies, but its role is exactly to leverage results through coordination and in cooperation with all relevant partners.

I simply cannot overemphasize the importance of UN Women’s normative work. Research suggests that one of the strongest forces behind the persistent gender gap are social norms and stereotypes that limit expectations of what women can or should do. We, therefore, urge UN Women to continue to strengthen its work on changing these harmful social norms and stereotypes.

We also strongly encourage UN Women to continue to deliver and support more effective and innovative solutions. The aim of the Danish contribution to UN Women’s Innovation Fund is for UN Women to reach more people in a more effective manner, at less cost and with better results. We are encouraged by some of the results already achieved.

To deliver the results, UN Women of course also needs adequate funding and we were very pleased to learn that UN Women had its best financial year ever in 2017.

However, UN Women is still short of the goal set by Member States of raising 500 million US dollars annually to fully implement its integrated mandate.

Denmark will continue to support UN Women at the current level, providing 95% as a core contribution.  At the same time, we encourage UN Women to continue to look at new ways to create and expand partnerships, to broaden its donor base and to increase the visibility of its results.

Limited resources call for prioritization and focus. We, therefore, continue to support UN Women’s development of Flagship Programming Initiatives and welcome the sharpening in UN Women’s programmatic focus, exemplified by the reduction of 56% in the total number of outcomes pursued by all country offices. We strongly encourage UN Women to strive after further improvements in programmatic clarity.

Before I close, I want to associate myself with the statement made by Panama on the topic of sexual exploitation and abuse and sexual harassment. Such behaviour is not only wrong, it is also very harmful for the UN’s credibility as a global norm setter. We expect UN Women and the UN System as a whole to stand firm on its principle of zero tolerance towards such misconduct and to implement the required institutional and cultural changes in a coherent and system-wide matter. We see a key role for UN Women here based on its unparalleled expertise in coordinating UN efforts for gender equality and in holding the UN System accountable for its own commitments on gender equality. We look forward to the briefing tomorrow on this topic.

In closing, I would like to reiterate Denmark’s strong support for the work of UN Women. Denmark looks forward to continuing working together with UN Women to fulfil the promises, hopes and goals of equal rights for men and women.

Thank you, Mdm. President.