Statement by Ambassador Dr. Maleeha Lodhi, Permanent Representative of Pakistan to the United Nations, at the First Regular Session-2017 of United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and Women Empowerment (UN-Women)(14 February 2017)

Madam President,

Let me congratulate you and the Bureau on your election.

We are grateful to the President of the Board and the Executive Director of UN-Women for their insightful briefings.

Madam President,

At the UN, we have made big strides over the last couple of years on the normative front. Resolution 71/243 of the General Assembly on Quadrennial Comprehensive Policy Review (QCPR) will in fact lead to the creation of a robust normative framework for the protection and empowerment of women. And Security Council Resolution 2242 reaffirmed our resolve to protect women in situations of armed conflict.

Madam President,

Women have a pivotal role to play in achieving sustainable development. Achieving gender equality and empowerment of women and girls is at the heart of the new development agenda. Goal 5 not only outlines critical targets in this regard but also underscores its importance as an overarching objective and its criticality in achieving a number of other SDGs, including poverty eradication, health, education and inclusive development.

UN-Women is well placed to deliver under the new QCPR. It has the potential to catalyze change by utilizing its composite nature and mandates in a fully integrated fashion.

Accomplishment of the new development paradigm however, poses many implementation and leadership challenges. Unwavering political support and ownership must not only continue, but will need to be reinforced at every step.

Madam President,

Women across the world, from Columbia to Uganda to Burundi to Tunisia, have emerged as leaders and consensus builders, inspiring hopes of peace and prosperity amidst conflict and violence.

Over the years, women have demonstrated time and again the requisite skills and capacities for mediation and peace building and have displayed a remarkable ability to lead various international initiatives.

Such skills and abilities make them particularly suited as Special Envoys, Special Representatives and Resident Coordinators. Yet the current share of women in leadership roles at the UN remains abysmally low. We are encouraged to see Secretary General Antonio Guterres focus on addressing this.

Madam President,

As a leading Troop Contributing Country, Pakistan fully recognizes the critical role of women in international peace and security. Our women peacekeepers have served as police officers, doctors and nurses in missions in Asia, Africa and the Balkans.

And lets also recall that it was my country that earned the distinction of electing the first female Prime Minister in the Muslim world, not once but twice.

We have also had outstanding women professional serve as the Speaker of our National Assembly, as Foreign Minister and as Governor of our Central Bank. Only yesterday, my government appointed the countryís first-ever female Foreign Secretary.

Madam President,

Gender equality and womenís empowerment remains among our top priorities. Pakistanís adherence to the ideals of empowering women and protecting their rights stems from our faith, our Constitution and the vision of our founding fathers.

Pakistan has signed and ratified a number of human rights conventions and instruments. As a follow up to the Beijing Platform for Action, Pakistan launched the National Plan of Action for the social, economic and political empowerment of Women.

The National Commission on the Status of Women has been instrumental in promoting womenís emancipation. The Benazir Income Support Programme (BISP) is a poverty reduction initiative that aims at empowering destitute women. While seats have been reserved for women in our National and Provincial legislatures more and more women are contesting on general seats and winning.

Madam President,

In conclusion, let me reaffirm Pakistanís full support for the adoption of the Strategic Plan (2018-2021) of UN-Women, which fully supports the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, while ensuring effective and accelerated implementation of the Beijing Platform for Action.

I thank you, Madam President.