HRC / 24th Session, Annual discussion on integration of a gender perspective: Civil society’s contribution
24th session Human Rights Council
Annual discussion on integration of a gender perspective: Civil society’s contribution
Thank you, Mr. President.
Austria would like to thank the High Commissioner and the panelists for their presentations and the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights for the preparation of this important event. We welcome today’s discussion on the integration of a gender perspective with a focus on the role of civil society in ensuring that.
Civil society, including NGOs, women’s groups, and human rights defenders play an important role in promoting and protecting the human rights of women. All over the world and every day, they are fighting for women’s rights and often risk discrimination, intimidation or even violence. In their daily struggle for more equal and inclusive societies they also often risk their lives. Therefore, the international community has the obligation to ensure a safe and enabling environment for their activities.
The work of civil society actors in the work of the Human Rights Council and its mechanisms is essential in order to enhance the integration of women’s rights throughout the United Nations system. It is further important stress that women’s rights should not only be discussed during events specifically dedicated to this issue, but should be addressed in a cross-cutting manner. In that sense, we would like to ask the panelists to share ideas on how we can best ensure that, using also the expertise of civil society organisations.
This year, we are celebrating the 20th anniversary of the Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action (VDPA). Celebrating this anniversary signifies also celebrating women’s rights as human rights. At the Vienna conference in 1993, the international community committed itself to address the full and equal participation of women in political, civil, economic, social and cultural life, at the national, regional and international levels, and the eradication of all forms of discrimination on grounds of sex as matters of priority. This achievement was realized because of the strong participation and the effective involvement of civil society actors.
In June this year, Austria, in cooperation with the OHCHR, organized a high-level expert conference on the follow-up to the Vienna conference which included also a working group on women’s rights and profited from the widespread participation of civil society actors. Thus, this conference was again a perfect example of the critical role to be played by civil society in advancing women’s rights. To realize these “priority objectives of the international community” – the full and equal participation of women in all spheres of life and the eradication of all forms of violence against women – we must all work together to ensure that a gender perspective is integrated in all policy and programme designs, whether on the international, national or local level.