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Note:  A complete summary of today's Commission on the Status of Women meetings will be made available after their conclusion.

High-Level Interactive Dialogue 1

In the morning, the Commission held a high-level interactive dialogue on “building alliances to achieve gender equality and empower rural women and girls”, chaired by David Stanton, Minister for Equality, Integration and Immigration of Ireland.

Mr. STANTON, delivering opening remarks, invited participants to share examples of good practices, planned initiatives and other efforts to build and strengthen alliances among gender equality leaders and advocates across all sectors.  Offering several discussion points, he asked about the key trends in rural development that were affecting rural women and girls’ livelihoods and for examples of effective multistakeholder collaboration among governmental authorities and rural women’s organizations, cooperatives and enterprises.

Ministers, high-level officials and representatives of countries then offered their perspectives, challenges and achievements.  Many agreed that cross‑cutting gender issues must seek out partnerships in other sectors to achieve concrete progress on common goals, including the objectives of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.  Ministers from developing countries described obstacles and solutions to accomplishing those objectives and their counterparts from developed nations demonstrated how their Governments were supporting related efforts at home and abroad.

The Minister for Health, Solidarity, Social Protection and Advancement of Women of Rwanda said national efforts began with a nationwide reconstruction plan that hinged on alliances between women and men.  Today, the results were tangible, demonstrated by strong public-private sector partnerships, digital literacy across genders and inclusive labour market participation.  Men were key partners in those achievements, she stressed.  Mobilizing such a broad range of stakeholders, from civil society to the private sector, had proven to be a key driver for change in Rwanda, triggering gender equality.

Indeed, alliances and building partnerships was the only route to take, said Jordan’s Minister for Social Development.  Describing several ongoing initiatives, she said a national commission for women was helping to ensure that gender issues were being considered across all sectors.  Addressing a law that permitted alleged rapists to marry their victims, she said efforts were being made to challenge that legislation.  Other challenges that were being addressed included harnessing technology to address high unemployment levels.

On combating violence against women, the Minister for Women and Child Affairs of Sri Lanka said close cooperation between the ministry and police was helping to build capacities to address gender-based violence.  Among other efforts, women’s bureaus at police stations were being set up nationwide and training programmes for officers had been offered since 2017.

Similarly, the Minister for Justice and Human Rights of Ecuador said laws had been passed on ending violence against women and improving their access to justice.  Targeted programmes were reaching rural women through partnerships, including in the finance sector, to improve their access to funding and land.

Highlighting the difficulties conflict-affected countries faced, the Minister for Women and Human Rights of Somalia said tailored responses were required.  In Somalia, support and alliances had been built with the Ministry of Finance and other sectors to strengthen coordination of gender-related efforts.  In addition, ministries in charge of elements of the national development plan had established a gender focal point.  Her ministry had also helped to strengthen partnerships based on a common strategy.

Summing up a common observation, Australia’s Minister for Revenue and Financial Services said any significant social change depended on building strong alliances.  Coordination among ministries and national women’s coalitions were forging partnerships to address a range of concerns.  With a rural women’s coalition, efforts were being made to advance access to technology to improve their livelihood.  As women normally did not receive their fair share of profits from farming, initiatives were ongoing to address that trend.

Several members of women’s organizations shared their perspectives on forming alliances to reach common goals.  Rural entrepreneurs suffered more than their urban counterparts in terms of financing, said a representative of Fundación BBVA para Microfinanzas, which served 1 million members in Colombia, Peru, Chile, Dominican Republic and Panama.  Targeted programmes were reaching many of its 300,000 rural members and efforts were being made to strengthen partnerships and alliances with public and private sector to promote best practices.  As Sustainable Development Goal 17 stated, only by joining forces would all stakeholders be able to achieve the 2030 Agenda.

More alliances were needed, said a representative of the Centre for Community Economics and Development Consultants Society of India.  Urging Member States to show increased political will to reach rural women and girls, she said civil society organizations provided a window for Governments to reach marginalized populations.  Distressed about the shrinking space for those organizations, she asked Member States to build more effective partnership mechanisms, to recognize the critical role rural women could play as agents of change in economic growth and development, and to eradicate patriarchal laws that currently challenged women’s equal rights.

Also participating in the dialogue were Ministers and other high-level officials of Liechtenstein, Zimbabwe, Finland, Hungary, Costa Rica, Iran, Italy, Saudi Arabia, Dominican Republic, Ukraine, Brazil, Canada, Trinidad and Tobago, Colombia, Spain, Philippines, Qatar, Uruguay, Eritrea, Congo, Afghanistan, Mexico, Benin, Morocco, Egypt and United Republic of Tanzania, as well as the European Union.

Representatives of the following non-governmental organizations also participated:  Asian-Pacific Resource and Research Centre for Women, FEMNET Kenya, World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts, Comisión para la Investigación de Malos Tratos a Mujeres of Spain, Canadian Labour Congress, Youth Bridge Foundation of Ghana and World Information Transfer.

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