Statement by Minister of State Böhmer on International Women’s Day: supporting gender-sensitive foreign policy

08.03.2016 - Press release

Maria Böhmer, Minister of State at the Federal Foreign Office, gave the following statement today (8 March) on International Women’s Day:

This year’s International Women’s Day provides an opportunity to think about the role of foreign policy in a gender-just world. Internationally, what do we want to achieve? What have we already achieved? And what do we still need to do?

I am pleased that Germany is one of the most active supporters of a gender-just world. Equal rights, equal responsibilities, equal opportunities and equal power for women and men are important tenets of our foreign policy.

I lobby for the inclusion of the topics of gender equality, female empowerment and women’s human rights in the international agenda.

Equal opportunities for women and men are an important factor for the sustainable economic, ecological and social development of our world. At the United Nations Sustainable Development Summit in September 2015, we were successful in our endeavours to have gender equality and self-determination for women and girls included as one of the 17 global goals of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. I thus support the United Nations’ motto for this year’s International Women’s Day: “Planet 50‑50 by 2030: Step It Up for Gender Equality”.

Crisis prevention, conflict management and post‑conflict peacebuilding, which we so urgently need, particularly in Ukraine, Syria, Libya and many other places in the world, can only be achieved if they take gender equality and gender-specific perspectives into account.

Women need special protection from violence in armed conflict. We need to intensify the fight against conflict‑related sexual violence. We need to put an end to impunity and call the perpetrators to account for war crimes.

Moreover, women need to be involved in crisis management, as reconstruction can only succeed with input from women. Women should be involved more directly in political processes and institutions, in the planning and staffing of peace missions, and in negotiations on peace agreements.

For this reason, I am pleased that we have taken the opportunity provided by the 15th anniversary of the United Nations agenda for women, peace and security to intensify our commitment. Among other things, we provided the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) with assistance of one million euros in 2015 to fight sexual violence in armed conflicts. We will continue to fund this humanitarian aid programme in 2016. I welcome Germany’s appointment of a Special Representative of the OSCE Chairperson‑in‑Office on Gender Issues for its OSCE Chairmanship in 2016. Melanne Verveer, Executive Director of the Georgetown Institute for Women, Peace and Security at Georgetown University, previously served under former US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton as US Ambassador for Global Women’s Issues in President Barack Obama’s administration. This role involved promoting women’s political and economic empowerment worldwide.

We need a global partnership of women for women. To this end, we must make use of international dialogue forums, such as the G7 Forum for Dialogue with women from all over the world, which was hosted by Federal Chancellor Angela Merkel in September 2015. Participants included Queen Rania of Jordan; President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf of Liberia; Prime Minister Erna Solberg of Norway; Helen Clark, Administrator of the United Nations Development Programme; Margret Chan, Director General of the World Health Organization; Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma, Chairperson of the African Union Commission; and Michaelle Jean, Secretary General of the International Organisation of the Francophonie.

Encouraging women to take control of their own lives was one of the aims of the G7 Forum for Dialogue. The subjects addressed at the forum included vocational education and training for girls and women, self‑employment and economic empowerment, political participation, opportunities for women in the digital world and access for women to primary healthcare.

As regards my question of what we still need to do, a gender-just world can only be achieved if everyone joins forces. States, civil society, the business sector, academia and the people must work together to ensure that equal rights, equal responsibilities, equal opportunities and equal power for women and men do not only exist on paper, but also become a reality.

I welcome the fact that countless women and men, as well as civil society organisations, work in Germany and worldwide to foster equal opportunities for women and men. UN Women’s #HeForShe campaign provides an important platform for civil society’s work on the international level.

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