55th Session of the Human Rights Council, International Women’s day

55th Session of the Human Rights Council, International Women’s day
GHRD Staff, United Nations Human Rights Council

Elena Vallejo Secadas
Team UN Geneva Researchers,
Global Human Rights Defence.

At the beginning of the 20th meeting of the 55th session of the Human Rights Council, being off the public agenda, both the President of the Human Rights Council, H.E. Mr. Omar Zniber, and the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Mr. Volker Türk mentioned the commemoration of 8 March, International Women's Day, stressing the importance of women in achieving peace, justice and democracy.

The High Commissioner regretted that gender inequalities are intensifying especially in crisis or conflict situations where women are the protectors and are in charge of keep the families together, as well as direct targets of hostilities. He lamented that women's voices are silenced in most peace processes and in the management of the current conflicts, which are almost entirely led by men.

He also regretted that despite all efforts not a single country has achieved gender equality and expressed that the causes of discrimination must be tackled in order to overcome it. Likewise, he stressed that the rights of women and girls are the backbone of peace and sustainable development.

In her video intervention, the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Finland, Ms. Elina Valtonen, acknowledged the importance of the struggle for gender equality as a mechanism to achieve peace and security and defended the importance of protecting sexual and reproductive rights of women and girls. The other intervention was made by the Centre for Sexual and Reproductive Rights, which also highlighted this issue, called for a strike on 8 March and expressed solidarity with women human rights defenders and activists facing discrimination and persecution. She was the only representative to speak at the session about this issue. 

The President of the Council encouraged those present to take a joint commemorative photo at the end of the session.