Tackling inequalities, empowering women and girls and leaving no one behind

At the Interactive dialogue: Tackling inequalities, empowering women and girls and leaving no one behind; during the Sustainable Development Summit in New York

Excellences, distinguished members of delegations,
Ladies and Gentlemen,

For the outset, let me congratulate all of us for the historic agreement on the Agenda 2030 for Sustainable Development Goals. The goals are all about leveraging life quality and human dignity in a comprehensive and sustainable way for all of us.

As a woman, I am personally very happy that in the SDG-s, gender equality and women empowerment is well positioned, as a stand- alone goal.  Agenda 2030 affirms the understanding that 20 years after the Beijing Declaration and Platform of Action there is a general notion about mainstreaming gender equality and women empowerment as a tool for sustainable life.

I would like to use my short minutes to touch upon one of the most important root causes of inequality related to gender aspects – lack of education and shortcomings in sexual and reproductive health and rights. It is a complex matter that cannot be fixed with one magic solution. The Beijing Platform of Action and related national and international norms will not fulfill their goals unless we stop the prevalence of stereotypical attitudes, social norms and practices that support and reproduce discrimination and violence against women. All people have the right to have control and decide freely and responsibly on matters related to their sexuality, free of coercion, discrimination and violence – as a matter of social justice. Sexual and reproductive rights are about bodily integrity, equality and freedom of choice. We cannot look away from the fact that these rights are violated every day, in all our countries. It is a universal challenge that calls for close cooperation between all actors.

I believe that it is of utmost importance to raise awareness. The key to raising awareness and making sure that “no one is left behind” is to ensure quality education and learning opportunities for all. Today, one of the main tools to empower women and girls is ICT that is crucial for long-term sustainable development. It is precisely in the field of education that we must consider the unparalleled opportunities that the rapid development of digitalization can bring.  ICT is an education promoter increasing schooling possibilities in remote areas. Estonia has encouraged knowledge and possibilities that ICT brings to education through its development cooperation and is committed to do so also in the future.

I am convinced that the promotion, protection, respect for and fulfilment of human rights for everyone, women and men, girls and boys, including their sexual and reproductive rights, without discrimination on any grounds, is a critical component of sustainable development and is a requirement for the full achievement of our internationally agreed development goals.

Last but not least let me reiterate that equal future free of discrimination can be achieved only if we all work together!

I thank you, and I wish us a lively continuation of the discussion.

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