I have the honour to speak on behalf of the European Union and its Member States.
The Candidate Countries the Republic of North Macedonia*, Montenegro*, Serbia* and Albania*, the country of the Stabilisation and Association Process and potential candidate Bosnia and Herzegovina, as well as Ukraine, the Republic of Moldova, and Georgia, align themselves with this statement.
We would like to thank Ambassador Mher Margaryan, the other members of the Bureau and UN Women for their work under these exceptional circumstances. We welcome that the Commission on the Status of Women was able to reach consensus on a series of important documents and thank all partners for their constructive engagement. Let me take this opportunity to express our deepest appreciation and gratitude to Ms Christine Brautigam, who is concluding her last CSW after more than 25 years of work with the Commission.
The Commission on the Status of Women is based on the active and open participation of Civil Society. We deeply regret that the COVID-19 pandemic prevented civil society representatives from taking part in this year's session. We pay tribute to the crucial role of non-governmental organisations, including feminist and women's organisations, and women human rights defenders. We will continue to promote and defend their work at the UN.
2020 was supposed to be a celebratory year for the advancement of gender equality and the empowerment of all women and girls. Instead, the COVID-19 crisis has exposed and deepened inequalities and has undermined the progress achieved in recent years. We are concerned by the surge of reports of sexual and gender-based violence and by the economic and health impacts of the crisis on women and girls. At the same time, we have seen that women – who represent the majority of health and social workers – are taking the lead in the COVID-19 response and will be the backbone of recovery in communities.
We must use this moment to rebuild more equal, inclusive and resilient societies. The Commission on the Status of Women will have a key role to play in order to guide and monitor recovery efforts that support gender equality. We welcome in this regard the adoption of an ambitious Multi-Year Programme of Work for 2021-2025. By focussing on political participation, violence, climate change, innovation and technology and poverty, the Commission on the Status of Women will be able to tackle several dimensions of recovery strategies.
In the past weeks, people around the world have marched against racism and for equality. Here also, we expect the Commission on the Status of Women to do its part and lead efforts in the fight against racism, including by addressing multiple and intersecting forms of discrimination and violence. The EU will continue to advocate for the Commission to oppose discrimination on any ground, including discrimination based on sex, race, colour, ethnic or social origin, language, religion or belief, political or other opinion, belonging to a minority, property, birth, disability, age, sexual orientation and gender identity.
Gender equality starts with the right of every woman to make their own decisions about their health and body. To get there, we need all men and boys to be engaged, show solidarity and participate in the process of change. The EU remains committed to the promotion, protection and fulfilment of all human rights and to the full and effective implementation of the Beijing Platform for Action and the Programme of Action of the International Conference on Population and Development and the outcomes of their review conferences and remains committed to sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR), in this context.
Having that in mind, the EU reaffirms its commitment to the promotion, protection and fulfilment of the right of every individual to have full control over, and decide freely and responsibly on matters related to their sexuality and sexual and reproductive health, free from discrimination, coercion and violence. The EU further stresses the need for universal access to quality and affordable comprehensive sexual and reproductive health information, education, including comprehensive sexuality education, and health-care services.
European Commission President Ursula Von Der Leyen has talked of Europe as "a unique aspiration of living in a society where you can be who you are, live where you like, love who you want and aim as high as you want." This aspiration of equality for all and in all of its senses will continue to inspire our participation at CSW, the Generation Equality Forum and in all other processes.
* The Republic of North Macedonia, Montenegro, Serbia and Albania continue to be part of the Stabilisation and Association Process.