Tehran, April 18, IRNA-The Center for Women's Participation (CWP) and UN Population Fund (UNFPA) jointly launched the National Report on the Status of Women in the Islamic Republic of Iran at the Presidential Club in Tehran on Monday.
The United Nations Information Center said in a press release, a copy of which received by IRNA Monday, during the launching ceremony, speeches were delivered by Head of CWP Ms. Zahra Shojaie, and UNFPA Representative in Iran Mohammad Abdel-Ahad.
Also rewards were given out by CWP to government officials, NGO representatives and UNFPA personnel for their contributions to the report.
Representatives of government institutions, women NGOs, and the media and UN agencies attended the ceremony.
The aforementioned report had been submitted to the 49th session of the UN Commission on the Status of Women which took place in New York late March 2005 to commemorate the 10th anniversary of the Fourth World Conference on Women held in Beijing in 1995.
Today's launching ceremony was an advocacy event to highlight progress, challenges and opportunities in implementing the Beijing Platform of Action in Iran.
Below is the full text of speech by UNFPA Representative in Iran Mr. Abdel-ahad delivered at the launching ceremony:
"Your Excellencies, distinguished participants, ladies and gentlemen,
"It gives me a great pleasure to be among you today to participate in launching the National Report on the Status of women in the Islamic Republic of Iran (IRI). I pay tribute to the Center for Women's Participation and all other government institutions, which contributed to the development of this informative, thorough and succinct report.
And I commend H.E. Mrs. Shojaie for her leadership and the participatory approach adopted throughout the process of drafting the report, ensuring consensus among all parties concerned. UNFPA is privileged for having provided substantive inputs to the production of this report. This, indeed, is a reiteration of the strong and long lasting partnership between UNFPA and the Center for Women's Participation.
"Our meeting today comes a few weeks after the 49th session of the UN Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) to commemorate the 10th Anniversary of the Fourth World Conference on Women (FWCW) held in Beijing in 1995. We are all delighted to learn that Iran's report was well received by the participants in this session.
"Ten years ago in Beijing, a 20-year platform of Action was developed to promote gender equity, equality and empowerment of women.
Beijing calls for addressing feminization of poverty, promoting women's equal access to resources, employment and education, increasing access to health including reproductive health (RH) information and services, elimination of violence against women, fostering women's participation in decision making and safeguarding human rights of women and the girl child.
"These strategic objectives and more are articulated in the 12 critical areas of the Beijing Platform of Action.
"The strategic objectives of Beijing complement and reinforce the goals of the International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD) held in Cairo in 1994 and the Millennium Development Goals. The ICPD goals of achieving universal access to education and RH services, attainment of reproductive rights and empowerment of women are reiterated in the Beijing Platform of Action. There is also a strong correlation between achieving universal access to RH care, promoting gender quality and poverty alleviation as the primary millennium development goal. For instance, family planning, as a component of RH helps empower women by enabling them to space their children and control their own fertility. The decline in fertility helps alleviate poverty by reducing the proportion of dependent population to the working age population and, thereby increases savings, investment and productivity. Research has shown that every dollar spent in family planning saved the government dlrs 16 and dlrs 31 in Thailand and Egypt, respectively. Such savings result from reduction of spending on food, health care, education and housing.
"Where does the world stand today, at the mid-point of the 20-year Beijing Platform of Action?
"On the one hand, tangible progress has been achieved in the social, economic and political status of women. Female labor force and school enrollment of girls have increased. There has been a rise in women's awareness of their rights. Forty countries have adopted laws against domestic violence and more than 70 countries have agreed to the Convention on Elimination of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW).
"But still much needs to be done as more than half a million women die every year during pregnancy and childbirth. Two thirds of all illiterate adults over 15 years of age are women, and girls constitute 60 percent of children not enrolled in primary schools.
"Beijing has been a driving force for promoting the status of women, but more hard work and vigilance are needed to overcome the challenges that lie ahead.
"Against this backdrop, the IRI has taken concrete measures to implement the Beijing POA:
"*The establishment of the Center for Women's Participation and the appointment of its director as an advisor to the president and a number of the cabinet helped to place women's issues high on the government agenda;
"*Integration of gender in national development planning has resulted in tangible increase in resource allocation for women's socio-economic, health and cultural programs;
"*The establishment of women's affairs committees in all provinces enhanced women's participation in decision making at the local level; and
"*Setting up a national committee on gender-based violence helped to formulate a national plan of action to address this issue.
"Such measures have yielded tangible results, especially in the areas of literacy, education and health. Over the past decade or so, the ratio of literate women to men among 15-24 year olds has increased from 94 percent to 97 percent. The overall ratio of girls to boys in primary, secondary and tertiary education has also increased from 85 percent to 93 percent.
Access to health including RH care has improved. As a result, MMR has declined from 52/100,000 live births to 37.4 and infant mortality from 41/1000 live births to 28. Contraceptive prevalence rate has increased from 65 percent to 74 percent and women's life expectancy at birth from 69 to 71 years.
"These achievements would not have been possible without the commitment of the Iranian Government and civil society to achieve the Beijing strategic objectives. However, there are still a number of challenges that lie ahead. These included the need to:
a) bridge data and information gaps on gender issues;
b) promote women's participation in the labor force and in management and policy making positions;
c) introduce legal reforms to bridge gender inequalities in family and civil law;
d) ratify CEDAW and e) expand the role of civil society in addressing gender issues.
"There is a growing realization within the government and among various sectors in the society of the need to overcome such challenges, which are addressed in the first Millennium Development Goals Report for Iran in 2004. We are very encouraged by the fact that the country's Five-Year Development Plan (2005-2009) points out to a number of policies and strategies to bridge gender inequalities.
Given the diversity and complexity of gender issues, collaborative efforts of the government, civil society, the UN and other stakeholders are a key to successful implementation of Beijing POA.
"The UN system in Iran, represented by UN gender theme group, which UNFPA is honored to chair, stands ready to help. The accumulated knowledge and wide range of expertise, neutrality and cultural sensitivity of the UN make it a strategic development partner to Iran in its endeavor towards further advancement of women.
"Let us join hands to nurture the success that Iran has achieved and address the challenges that lie ahead in attaining Beijing's strategic objectives.
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