News article

UK statement to the OSCE Permanent Council on International Women's Day 2015

This world location news article was published under the 2010 to 2015 Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government

International Women’s Day is an opportunity to take stock of the challenges that all states face in tackling gender discrimination.

Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe Permanent Council, Vienna, Austria

12 March 2015

We align ourselves with the statement made by Latvia on behalf of the EU and would like to add some remarks in our national capacity. The marking of International Women’s Day is an opportunity to take stock of the challenges that all states face in tackling gender discrimination and its often devastating consequences for individuals, their families and wider society.

Violence against Women is one of the most abhorrent of these consequences. It ruins lives and is unacceptable. Too many women and girls continue to suffer sexual violence and abuse and we are committed to tackling these serious crimes.

Effective international action is essential to end gender based violence and to promote women’s full and equal participation in political and economic life. The OSCE’s concept of comprehensive security means that the organisation is well placed to make a real difference in this area including by building on action taken elsewhere in the international community.

Colleagues will recall the work that the UK government has done to highlight the appalling crime of sexual violence in conflict. Last year’s London Summit agreed practical steps to tackle impunity for the use of rape as a weapon of war, and to begin to change global attitudes to these crimes. Regional organisations such as the OSCE have an important role to play in ensuring that these principles are put into action and we will be considering with the OSCE Secretariat and participating States how we can best ensure that this happens.

The OSCE can also play an important role in ensuring that women and girls are placed at the centre of all our efforts to prevent and resolve conflict and to promote peace and stability. This year will mark the 15th anniversary of United Security Council Resolution 1325 which recognises the impact of conflict on women, and their central role in building peace. It is disappointing that there have been past difficulties in making progress on an OSCE-wide Action Plan on Women, Peace and Security and we hope that it will be possible to make a renewed push for progress in this area.

In conclusion Mr Chairman, I reiterate my government’s commitment to gender equality in word and deed. We call on all to commit to international engagement, including at the OSCE, to rid our societies of all forms of violence and intolerance and express our readiness to work with others to ensure that principles and undertakings are translated into effective action.