This page contains statements made during the General Debate of the 67th session of the General Assembly 25 September – 1 October 2012. The Gender Index includes all references to gender, women, females, girls, gender equality, violence against women and participation made in statements delivered during the General Debate.
Only statements with references to Gender, Women, Peace and Security are posted on this page. (For disarmament see: reachingcriticalwill.org)
During the week-long General Debate, the General- Secretary Ban Ki-moon, the President of the General Assembly, Vuk Jeremic, and representatives from 193 member states put forth their concerns, positions and priorities to the Assembly under the theme of “Adjustment or settlement of international disputes or situations by peaceful means”.
Many of the speakers condemned the crisis in Syria, the repeating violations of human rights, and the killing of civilians. In relation to Syria, the veto rights in the Security Council were also highlighted and criticized for blocking UN actions. Moreover, quite a few delegations stressed the need to achieve the Millennium Development Goals, to advance and respect the rule of law, and protect human rights. The Arab Spring, the global economic situation, and the anti-American outbursts that have taken place in the Muslim world were also commonly referred to at the 67th session of the General Debate. Also noteworthy is the aggressive statement delivered by Iran's President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, in which he called the Israeli government “a fake government” and “uncivilized Zionists”.
Out of a total of 194 analyzed statements, 58 contained general comments on women and gender issues. A majority of them, such as India, Belgium and Papua New Guinea, mentioned their commitment to advance gender equality and promoting women's political and economical participation, both nationally and within the UN agencies. A general tendency in the statements was that women were referred to in a context where the needs and rights of vulnerable groups in the society were addressed, such as people with disabilities, elderly, youth, children, refugees and minorities. Repeating patterns of previous years, statements tended to depict women as mere victims in need of greater protection and failed to address their important role as agents for peace and security.
Only 26 speakers, among them Croatia, Uganda and Tunisia, made specific and substantial references to women, peace and security. That includes the need to protect women from gender-based and sexual violence in conflict and post-conflict countries, as well as supporting women's full participation in peace-processes and peacekeeping missions, among other relevant themes. Estonia, Austria and Montenegro explicitly mentioned the Security Council Resolution 1325 and expressed commitment to its full implementation. Trinidad and Tobago was the only member-state that spoke of women in the context of arms trade, disarmament and non-proliferation. This by referring to a high-level panel they hosted on the topic a week before. The speaker stated that: “The highlight of the discussion was the signing of a joint statement by the Government Representatives to promote the equitable representation of women in all decision making on these matters”, and urged other member-states to support it. Four statements referred to sexualized violence in conflicts, such as The Netherlands and the Republic of Korea.
It should also be pointed out that the number of female speakers during the general debate was diminishingly low. Out of 199 statements, 15 were delivered by female representatives (Barbados, Grenada, Lichtenstein, San Marino, Jamaica, Bangladesh, Thailand, Liberia, Gambia, Australia, Malawi, Brazil, Lithuania, Switzerland, Argentina). Ten of them referred to women or gender issues in general terms, and three specifically spoke about women in the context of peace and security.
The President of Brazil, Dilma Rousseff, delivered a noteworthy statement when she stressed the need for further advancement of women by saying: “Once again, a woman's voice is opening the debate of the United Nations General Assembly. For many, we women are “half the sky”. But we want to be half of the Earth as well. With equal rights and opportunities. Free from all forms of discrimination and violence. Capable of building our own emancipation and, with it, of contributing to the emancipation of all.”
On the topic of sexual violence against women in conflict areas, the representative of the Republic of Korea called for greater efforts to protect women, and also stressed the need to enhance survivors' access to justice and ending impunity. Solomon Islands emphasized women's role as great leaders and peace-builders in their country. And the Philippines stated that they: “recognize the important role played by women in the promotion of peace and continues to deploy more female peacekeepers to peacekeeping missions.