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NEWS

International Women’s Day

Ljubljana, 8 March 2018 – Today marks International Women’s Day. On this day, we would like to recall the humanist and civilisational contribution of the women who helped shape the narrative of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights adopted 70 years ago.

 

With their wisdom, sensitivity and dedication, Eleanor Roosevelt (USA), Hansa Mehta (India), Begum Shaista Ikramullah (Pakistan) and Minerva Bernardino (Dominican Republic) paved the way to gender equality in the text of this groundbreaking instrument of international human rights law. Also thanks to these women pioneers who participated in drafting the Declaration, its text contains the terminology fully reflecting gender equality, including equal enjoyment of all rights and freedoms.

 

As stated in Article 1 of the Declaration, all human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. Nevertheless, 70 years after it was adopted, gender equality has still not been achieved and even seems unattainable in a large number of countries. Quoting the words of Eleanor Roosevelt, the then Chairperson of the Commission on Human Rights and one of the leading authors of the Declaration wording: "Where, after all, do universal human rights begin? In small places, close to home – so close and so small that they cannot be seen on any maps of the world. Such are the places where every man, woman, and child seeks equal justice, equal opportunity, equal dignity without discrimination. Unless these rights have meaning there, they have little meaning anywhere. Without concerted citizen action to uphold them close to home, we shall look in vain for progress in the larger world."

 

Ensuring equal opportunities and equal treatment of women and men is a precondition for sustainable development, eradication of poverty, inclusive growth and wellbeing of societies. Despite the progress made in the last decades, a great deal remains to be done in order to achieve genuine equality between women and men around the world. The Global Gender Gap Report 2017 of the World Economic Forum states that at today's rate of progress, the overall global gender gap could be closed as late as in slightly less than 200 years. Taking into consideration the criteria set in the Report, Slovenia ranks in the global top 20 countries. Nevertheless, many challenges still remain.

 

Empowerment of women and gender equality also have an important place in Slovenia's foreign policy. Slovenia is a staunch supporter of gender equality and women's empowerment within international organisations, in bilateral relations and in the context of development projects in the field. By promoting gender equality, Slovenia would like to facilitate cooperation and exchange of good practices leading to achieving genuine equality of women and men in Slovenia as well as in partner countries. In the Western Balkans, within projects implemented by NGOs, Slovenia focuses on the empowerment of women and girls, and encourages employment and gender-balanced representation in the highest decision-making bodies and in the economy. In addition to projects carried out in Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro, Macedonia and Serbia, projects of psychosocial and economic empowerment of women refugees in the Lebanon refugee centre of Ein El Helwah and of Syrian mothers and children in Jordan have been launched. This year, the project Education and economic empowerment of vulnerable groups of women in Rwanda will give further impetus to efforts for women's empowerment in Sub-Saharan Africa.

 

By undersigning a number of joint statements, Slovenia draws attention to the unequal position of women even at the current session dedicated to human rights, including the specific challenges faced by disabled women and girls, and the need to promote sexual and reproductive health and rights during humanitarian crises. Gender equality is one of Slovenia's key priorities within the UN Human Rights Council in the 2016–2018 period, which this year is presided over by Slovenia.