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‘No effort should be spared to achieve gender equality and empower women by 2030’

Statement by Elena Centemero, Chairperson of the PACE Committee on Equality and Non-Discrimination, on the occasion of the International Women’s Day 2017

Globalisation, digitalisation and increased mobility are giving the world of work a new face worldwide. Changes are deep and rapid. Gender inequality, however, remains intact: the barriers to women’s empowerment in the economy, including those that are purely cultural such as outdated gender stereotypes, have not disappeared.

Progress has been achieved in recent years in various areas, including women’s political representation. That is encouraging, but not yet good enough. Moreover, these achievements cannot be taken for granted: on the contrary, women’s rights are increasingly being questioned, in areas ranging from preventing and combating gender violence to reproductive health. All rights are interconnected: whenever the private sphere is challenged, the other areas also suffer, and economic empowerment with them.

If we want real progress, we need to aim high. No target is too ambitious: “Achieving gender equality and empowering all women and girls”, as indicated in the United Nations 2030 Agenda, must be our goal. We should not settle for anything less. This, however, will not happen by itself, nor will it happen by chance. We need to step up our efforts, and to act fast.

The Committee on Equality and Non-Discrimination, and the Parliamentary Assembly as a whole, are doing their part: by highlighting progress, denouncing set-backs and pushing for innovative measures to be adopted, we are working for women’s rights to be fulfilled and for women’s empowerment to become a reality. We count on our counterparts, first and foremost the national parliaments but also governments and civil society, to stay by our side and support our work.