Speech by Minister for Foreign Affairs Erkki Tuomioja at the event on women’s leadership and political participation

Speech by Minister for Foreign Affairs Erkki Tuomioja at the event on women’s leadership and political participation held in the margins of the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva on 18 June 2012.


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Mr. Chairman,

Women’s participation in political, public and economical decision-making has become more significant and visible than ever in many parts of the world. Finland wants to ensure the fulfillment of the empowerment of women and considers international mechanisms, such as the Human Rights Council, important in this respect.

Women’s equal participation is needed for achieving common goals and sustainable development and for the full enjoyment of their human rights. Society can progress in a more positive and democratic direction when the competence, knowledge, experience and values of both women and men are allowed to influence and enrich political and economical decision-making processes.

Increasing the number of women in government structures, particularly in the security and justice sectors is of key importance. Women also have a central role in contributing to civilian crisis management and peacekeeping missions. Women’s involvement in peacekeeping and crisis management serves to remind conflict-ridden countries that women have an essential and integral part to play in rebuilding society. By including women in the process of decision-making and social reconstruction, countries are effectively using their full potential in building up a functioning and balanced society.

Mr. Chairman,

The Convention of Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) and the United Nations Security Council Resolution 1325 are important tools in enhancing gender mainstreaming and participation of women on the ground. The CEDAW Convention
 - that has been ratified by 187 countries - provides a significant normative basis for protection of women’s rights. Finland is strongly committed to the implementation of the Convention and supporting the CEDAW Committee’s work.

Finland believes that in addition to the country-specific recommendations, it is also essential to implement the CEDAW Committee’s general recommendations. One important general recommendation, which has a close linkage to the UNSC Resolution 1325 and is currently under preparation, is a general recommendation on the protection of women’s human rights in conflict and post-conflict contexts. The recommendation was discussed in detail by CEDAW Committee members last January in a seminar in Helsinki. The primary purpose of this general recommendation is to provide guidance to State parties on the legislative, policy and other appropriate measures to ensure full compliance with their Convention obligations in these special contexts.

Promoting women’s rights through the agenda of Women, Peace and Security is among Finland’s foreign policy priorities. We have been active in implementing the UNSC Resolution 1325 especially through our own National Action Plan. The first Finnish National 1325 Action Plan was issued in 2008. It was drafted in cross-sectoral cooperation with representatives from various ministries, non-governmental organisations and research institutes. The realisation of the Action Plan and the implementation of its objectives have been monitored by a Follow-up Group formed by representatives of ministries, research institutes and non-governmental organisations chaired by the Ministry for Foreign Affairs. 

Based on our experiences so far and in order to intensify the implementation of the Resolution, Finland has prepared an updated, results-oriented second Action Plan for the years 2012 to 2016, and it was published last week. As was the case with the first National Action Plan, also the new plan has been developed in cooperation with the aforementioned various stake-holders who will also monitor its implementation. Civil society’s contribution in this process has been and continues to be indispensable.

International partnerships have become pivotal flagships of the Finnish 1325 work. In 2009, Finland has initiated so-called twinning partnership cooperation with Kenya and Afghanistan. Through Femmes Africa Solidarité Finland has supported the drafting and implementation of a regional 1325 Action Plan for Rwanda, Burundi and the Democratic Republic of Congo. In Kosovo Finland supports a UN Joint Programme on domestic violence; the programme is designed to contribute to the implementation of Resolution 1325.

Finland is also partnering with the NGO Working Group on Women, Peace and Security to help implement resolution 1325 in the country-specific work of the Security Council. We are organizing a series of meetings with women’s rights advocates for the members of the Security Council ahead of important mandate renewals or country-specific discussions. This provides the Council members with a possibility to hear directly the key concerns and recommendations of women working in conflict-affected countries and take their views better into account in the Council’s decision making.

The cooperation on 1325 issues with our partner countries is a process of mutual learning as we have a lot to learn from one another. The UNSC resolution 1325 provides a great framework not only to discuss issues related to women, peace and security, but also to gender equality and women’s rights more broadly. It brings together different sectors of society that normally do not work together and stimulates useful dialogue.

Mr Chairman,

Women‘s contribution is invaluable – not only in their own societies, but also for the international agenda as a whole. Gender equality is a human rights issue; strengthening the rights and status of women also promotes economic development and well-being. Femmes Africa Solidarité is a good example of successful gender work and we are pleased with the cooperation we have had with you as well as with Senegal for many years now. I am grateful for the opportunity to be here today and look forward to a fruitful discussion.

Thank you.