Much still needs to be done to ensure women’s equal participation in all spheres of life, OSCE leaders say on International Women’s Day

VIENNA/WARSAW, 8 March 2017. (mediap). – While significant progress has been made to advance women’s equal participation in all spheres of life, much still needs to be done to make that equality a reality, senior officials of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) said today on the occasion of International Women’s Day.
Sebastian Kurz, OSCE Chairperson-in-Office and Austrian Foreign Minister; Lamberto Zannier, OSCE Secretary General; and Michael Georg Link, Director of the OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR), stressed that promoting equality in all spheres of life meant addressing all remaining obstacles that women face.
“Too many barriers still exist to women’s equal participation,” Chairperson-in-Office Kurz said. “These barriers are often not visible and are deeply rooted in gender stereotypes. We need to combat these stereotypes every day, including in the workplace. I call on leaders, both men and women, to be advocates for gender equality.”
Highlighting the OSCE’s character as a regional security organization, the OSCE officials noted that eliminating all forms of discrimination against women was not just a necessary step in ensuring women’s equal rights, but that it would also lead to greater prosperity, stability and sustainable development, all of which would contribute to security in the OSCE region.
“We can fully tackle security challenges in our region only by integrating a gender perspective, for example in our work on the role of women in countering violent extremism or in post-conflict reconstruction, mediation and peace-building,” Secretary General Zannier said.
ODIHR Director Link stressed that combatting violence against women is integral to providing security for all.
“Violence against women is one of the most pervasive security threats in the OSCE area. It also prevents women’s empowerment and impedes efforts to promote and ensure equality,” the ODIHR Director said. “OSCE participating States have committed themselves to taking more vigorous measures to prevent and eliminate all forms of violence against women, to protect victims, to prosecute and punish the perpetrators and to develop integrated policies to ultimately ensure full respect for women’s rights in the OSCE region. Combatting violence against women is integral to providing security for all.”
OSCE participating States have agreed on a comprehensive framework of commitments to promote gender equality and women’s equal opportunities. On this year’s International Women’s Day, the Organization is drawing specific attention to the importance of women’s economic participation and addressing the gender pay gap. Ways to include men in gender equality issues, in particular in combating violence against women, are another focus of the OSCE’s activities in 2017.
On 12 and 13 June 2017, the Austrian OSCE Chairmanship in co-operation with the Secretariat’s Gender Section and ODIHR will organize a Gender Equality Review Conference to discuss progress and challenges in the implementation of the agreed commitments to achieve gender equality in all areas of life and work.
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