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Opening address of the Beijing + 10 European Conference by Ms Marie-Josée Jacobs, Minister for Equal Opportunities

Date of Speech : 02-02-2005

Place : Luxembourg

Speaker : Marie-Josée Jacobs

Policy area : Employment, Social Policy, Health and Consumer Affairs Employment, Social Policy, Health and Consumer Affairs

Event : European Conference Beijing + 10

Dear Colleagues,


Madam President of the Parliamentary Committee on Women’s Rights and Gender Equality,

Madam Director General for Employment, Social Affairs and Equal Opportunities of the European Commission,

Members of Parliament,

State Councillors,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

I am particularly pleased to welcome you to Luxembourg on behalf of the Luxembourg Presidency. We have the honour of chairing this conference organised with the support of the European Commission and in cooperation with the European Parliament and the European Women’s Lobby.

I am especially proud to host this important conference of distinguished guests from all the Member States of the European Union, EFTA (EFTA countries: Liechtenstein, Norway, Iceland, Switzerland), EU accession applicants, the European institutions, international and national organisations, social partners and NGOs as well as eminent experts who have accepted to guide us in our debates with their expertise.

This conference is being held between the regional conference of the Economic Commission for Europe in December 2004 and the 49th session of the Commission on the Status of Women (CDW) which will be held in New York from 28 February to 11 March and in which the European Union, represented by the Luxembourg Presidency, will participate.

As this year’s session of the Commission on the Status of Women will be devoted to the ten-yearly review and evaluation of the implementation of the Beijing Platform, our meeting here in Luxembourg marks an important step. It will enable the Member States of the European Union and its partners gathered here to strengthen their cohesion, in order to speak with one voice in New York and adopt a common position. I feel it is essential to avoid at all costs during the New York meeting that the Beijing objectives and the progress made since 1995 should be opened to question.

Our message must be in favour of a positive reaffirmation of our commitment and an intensification of our efforts in favour of full and effective implementation of the Beijing Declaration and Action Platform. I believe it is particularly important to emphasise the links between the revision of the Beijing Platform and those of the Millennium Development Goals, and it is our duty to emphasise that equality between women and men and reinforcement of the empowerment of women are essential to achieving all the Millennium Development Goals.

The objective of our conference is to analyse the institutional mechanisms and technical instruments enabling these political commitments to be achieved.

The subject of institutional mechanisms will also be dealt with at the 49th session of the Commission on the Status of Women (CSW). On 28 February 2005, I shall be participating on behalf of the European Union, in a “high-level�? round table discussion on “innovations in the institutional arrangements for the promotion of gender equality at regional level".

The Beijing Action Programme identified the conception and improvement of institutional mechanisms charged with encouraging the promotion of women as one of the 12 critical areas where governments were required to take action.

It is undeniable that institutional mechanisms are indispensable for the implementation of the Beijing Action Platform and the promotion of the policy of equality between women and men.

The European Union played a pioneering role in the development of institutional mechanisms. The report by the Presidency, which was finalised by a group of international experts, provides an analysis of institutional development, and particularly national mechanisms and government bodies. It also examines the development of the instruments and techniques necessary to turn the political commitments into reality.

Despite the encouraging progress made concerning the situation of women in the Member States, the report also highlights the obstacles preventing effective implementation of equality between women and men and lists the major challenges that remain.

During this meeting, we will have the opportunity to exchange our experiences and identify, by means of practical examples, the most effective instruments and techniques. We shall then discuss the most urgent challenges facing us. Your ideas are most valuable and will guide the preparation of my participation in New York.

The conference will be structured around the following three areas: Legislation, Evaluation and Accountability.

Today’s session will be devoted to legislation and its implementation.  In June 2000, an extraordinary session of the General Assembly re-examined the implementation of the Action Programme.  Governments then adopted a final document in which they undertook to revise their national legislation with a view to endeavouring to eliminate discriminatory provisions "as soon as possible, and preferably by 2005".  Today, we shall have the opportunity to discuss the progress made at both Community and international level.

I am particularly pleased that today’s speeches will focus on the rapprochement between the Convention on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) and European legislation. I am committed to this remarkable instrument for upholding the fundamental rights of women, and I am convinced that the ratification and application of this convention will accelerate the achievement of equality between women and men. When it entered office in August 2004, the new Luxembourg government expressly confirmed its commitment to CEDAW, whose implementation forms the framework for actions in favour of equality between women and men.

Tomorrow, the day will be devoted to the strategy of the integrated approach to the gender dimension, which goes hand in hand with specific actions. In its governmental declaration, the Luxembourg government advocated the reinforcement of its institutional mechanisms and the integration of gender into all its actions and policies.

To apply the gender mainstreaming strategy properly, it is important to develop evaluation and supervision mechanisms as well as accountability.

I am sure that the report by the Presidency on the implementation of the Beijing Action Programme, which will be submitted to us by the group of independent experts, will provide innovative ideas capable of clarifying and enhancing the instruments and tools to be used to reinforce our strategies.

We shall also have the opportunity to discuss the alternative situation review drawn up by the European Women’s Lobby on the implementation of the Beijing Platform. The dialogue with civil society is essential to improve the transparency and accountability of those in government vis-à-vis those with whom they are in discussion.

The involvement of civil society and the social partners in the implementation of an equality policy is indispensable.

I am curious to learn what strategies and techniques were adopted by my colleagues from Spain, Ireland and Sweden to incorporate the gender dimension into their national policies and budgetary processes.  I hope that this round table, chaired by the European Commission, will also inform us about their experience with using performance indicators and evaluation criteria in drawing up and monitoring progress towards strategic objectives.

Indicators play an important role in the mid-term review of the Lisbon strategy which will be carried out by the Member States under our Presidency. The European Union’s ambition to develop a social model that guarantees the balance between economic growth, jobs and social cohesion must be based on equality between women and men.  The Luxembourg Presidency will ensure that the gender dimension is not sacrificed to economic imperatives.

Thursday afternoon will provide us with the opportunity to debate mechanisms for improving transparency and increasing accountability of government in relation to their commitments.

The speakers will deal above all with the status of women in post-war situations, the trade in human beings and development aid policies.

The strategies used to promote gender equality and empowerment of women in development aid policies will be illustrated by means of a target developing country on which Luxembourg is focusing its bilateral cooperation.

Within this context, I would like to join with all those who have pointed out that humanitarian aid must also include protection and security for women and children, who have become particularly vulnerable in the Asian countries devastated by the tsunamis and who are already victims, according to several UN agencies, of rape, sexual abuse and trafficking.

To plan our future action, we must mobilise our collective resources in order to progress in all the critical areas of the Beijing Platform.

I am convinced that the contributions by the highly qualified speakers and participants will encourage and stimulate constructive debate and dialogue.

I hope that at the end of this conference, we will be able to draw conclusions that will help us move forward and guide us in the development of new actions and strategies. It is imperative to find concrete solutions for the years ahead to implement equality in everyday life.

The conclusions of the conference will have an influence on the ministerial meeting to be held on 4 February, during which a common declaration will have to be adopted by the ministers for equality between women and men.

I am sure that our close cooperation will contribute significantly to the work and the ultimate success of the 49th session in favour of equality between women and men and the revision of the Millennium Development Goals.

Thank you for coming to Luxembourg and I wish you a pleasant stay.

This page was last modified on : 02-02-2005

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