Vienna, 5 March 2010 Press release

Spindelegger: "Equal treatment is all too often unheard of"

Foreign Minister on International Women’s Day

Vienna, 5 March 2010 - "Women are a pillar of our society. Nevertheless, "equal treatment" remains unheard of in many countries and regions of the world. Genuine gender equality, however, is the basis for poverty reduction, social peace, and sustainable development. Therefore, promoting the rights of women must be an integral element of our foreign and development policy", said Foreign Minister Michael Spindelegger in connection with the International Women’s Day on 8 March.

This year, we will be celebrating the tenth anniversary of UN resolution 1325 on women, peace, and security. "This resolution was a milestone for international women’s rights and the protection of women. For the first time, a resolution dealt with the impact of armed conflicts on women, and with their active role in all phases of the peace process. As a result, this resolution has made a significant contribution toward enhancing awareness on this topic worldwide", said the Foreign Minister, adding that "despite progress in some areas such as preventing and combating sexual violence, a lot remains to be done. The tenth anniversary of the resolution must inspire us to continue its consistent implementation in all areas", said Spindelegger. An expert meeting co-organized by the Foreign Ministry in New York next week will provide specific impulses in this direction.

Women are not just victims of violence in armed conflicts, but also victims of domestic or traditional violence such as genital mutilation. Austria supports the worldwide campaign by UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon to combat violence against women. On a national level, Austria has introduced tougher legislation for the protection of women against domestic violence: "Both at a national and an international level, violence against women must not go unpunished. There can be no impunity for perpetrators", said Spindelegger.

"In my Ministry, too, I put a great focus on fully utilizing the potential of women and on promoting them in the best possible way. As of December 2009, 48 % of my staff were women. During the previous year, the number of women at the helm of a department rose by almost 50%. Female executives also hold the top positions at the Austrian Development Agency and the Austria Institute. I support this trend toward full gender mainstreaming and I hope that it persists", concluded the Foreign Minister.

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