Commission on Human Rights
Sixty-First Session
- Item 12 - Integration of the Human Rights of Women and the Gender Perspective -

by Mrs. Steluta Arhire,
Director, Division of OSCE and Council of Europe and Human Rights,
Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Romania

Geneva, 10 April 2005

Mr. Chairman,

We are witnessing a growing international consensus on the need that women's rights and gender analysis be an automatic element in the planning and practice of all political initiatives. Numerous resolutions, mandates and special procedures or recent policies related to women's rights issues stand as vivid illustration. It is, most of the times, argued that such an approach would ensure that an active role be played by the most vulnerable citizens, in the transformation and rebuilding of their societies.

This is an assumption that needs to be challenged. Women should be acknowledged as making a valuable contribution to their societies and in international relations, because of their skillful and worth contribution, of their ability to bring an added value both to the decision-making and to the implementation of policies in all parts of the world.

Mr. Chairman,

There is a need for a different mindset. Politicians, policy makers, practitioners and we all must not predetermine our policies and decisions, by categorizing women as vulnerable beings and identifying them, primarily, as likely victims.

The ethos of women's participation in the advancement of their societies must include the true dimension of women's capabilities to contribute and to be equal partners with men in the decision-making processes.

The role of women as agents of development and peace should transgress boundaries and cultures. Engaging women in international affairs does not mean changing one's particular system of values. It is within the richness of each particular social and political system that gender perspectives be sought after, put in the spotlight and mainstreamed into policies.

In Romania, we try to rise to the expectations of empowering women, while overcoming prejudice and marginalization. Romanian women have joined men in fighting terror and securing Afghanistan and Iraq. They are contributing to post-conflict reconstruction in Kosovo and Bosnia-Herzegovina; they act as excellent peace-keepers in Africa, pursue with determination respect for human rights in UN bodies, are devoted Members of the Parliament at home, represent communities at the local level and make decisions in central government structures.

Women are guaranteed their civil and political rights and are protected from discrimination based on race, religion, ethnicity, sexual orientation, age or disability. A network of institutions and norms aiming at ensuring that women in Romania enjoy, to the fullest, their recognized rights, has been established. However, legal stipulations, even when just and unambiguous, cannot ensure by themselves gender equity in the diverse social and political life.

The Romanian Government understands to provide guarantees, economic and social protection measures and a consistent political action. The adoption in 2000 of 2001 National Plan of Action for Equal Opportunities has provided a comprehensive framework for all agencies of the Government to develop concrete actions towards promoting economic and social rights for women, for women's participation in the decision-making process.

On the other hand, there are women in Romania who have fallen victims to abuses and ill treatment, at home or in their communities. Like other Central and Eastern European countries, Romania is currently confronted with the challenges raised by the trafficking in human beings. The Law on combating and preventing trafficking in human beings, adopted in 2001, represents the national policy aimed at approaching an issue that requires joint international efforts. The Action Plan adopted subsequently ensures that law enforcement is in place, that governmental institutions in Romania address the root-causes of the trafficking: poverty, inequality, discrimination, lack of access to information, and that the protection of victims is ensured.

Mr. Chairman

There is still work to be done, ahead of us, and we are aware of this. The message which should be conveyed, by this Commission, to all governments and civil society representatives is that no impediments are allowed to prevent the access of women to the full enjoyment of their human rights. The UN Commission on Human Rights must capacitate its special procedures in order to ensure that no tolerance is accepted for infringements upon women's rights, in all types of societies, democratic, in transition, in conflict-torn or post-conflict societies, in peacekeeping missions, and within the UN system itself.

Thank you

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