New York, 13 March 2019
Photo: Twitter (@Portugal_UN)
Portugal embodies the broad vision of the European Union, here delivered by Romania, and aligns with the statement of Cape Verde on behalf of the Community of Portuguese Speaking Countries.
Portugal also fully shares the vision presented here by the Secretary-General, António Guterres: “push back against the pushback” of populism and regression of sexual and reproductive rights of girls and women.
We approved, in 2018, a new National Strategy for Equality and Non-Discrimination aligned with the 2030Agenda, providing the necessary gender perspective to the areas of social protection, public services and infrastructures.
We know that austerity had severe repercussions in particular for women. Between 2012 and 2014 the risk of poverty of Portuguese women increased, with the related material deprivation rate increasing by 4,4 pp. We reversed this trend, between 2015 and 2018, reducing this rate by 5,2 pp.
The Portuguese Government privileges, in this way, a structural intervention, rejecting isolated approaches.
As a reflection of this, I point out the cross-sectoral program with 33 measures that we launched last December and which, for the first time, is totally focused on promoting the conciliation of professional, personal and family life.
This is an already long way. In the area of social protection:
- We have increased the family allowance according to the age of the children, which had an impact of 63 million € only in 2018.
- We are also reducing the monthly burden for families who have more than one child in the same nursery school.
- We allocated the previous cuts in the Social Insertion Income for the poorest children, with a 30% increase in the number of beneficiary children.
With regard to the parenthood, we are negotiating to implement an increase in fathers’ rights. Just yesterday, the Parliament approved the increase of the compulsory father leave to 20 days, paid at 100%.
Nevertheless, Portugal continues to be very unequal in the distribution of unpaid work, especially care one. We will analyse, for this reason, the several parental leave sharing systems, with a view to strengthen it. In 2017, the number of fathers sharing the leave with mothers reached 38%.
In the education field, considering the low number of ICT female graduates - reduced to 17% in 2017 - the Government created the project “Engineers for 1 Day”, working directly with students of primary and secondary schools to deconstruct prejudices through practical exercises and mentoring.
A new National Strategy for Citizenship Education is also underway, which includes as a mandatory subjects in the curricula, at all levels of education, the gender equality and the fight against discrimination based on sexual orientation, gender identity and expression, and sexual characteristics.
In the field of infrastructures, we made an investment at about 700 million € in the nursery school network between 2006 and 2009. Already between 2016 and 2018, we invested additional 23 million, increasing 3000 places, having today an average coverage rate of 49%.
Finally, I stress the work in addressing the violence against women:
- Since 2015, the increase and specialization of victim support services, with new shelters for women with disabilities and mental illness, LGBTI people and victims of sexual violence.
- We invested on protocols with municipalities to ensure coverage of services in poor areas and to improve local intervention. Today, the service network covers 66% of the country.
However, Portugal is experiencing a particularly dramatic period. Earlier this year, the number of femicides increased.
That is why, on March 7th, we decreed national mourning for the victims of this violence and approved immediate measures to ensure the rapid and effective protection of women on the ground, in cooperation with NGOs.
Quoting the Secretary-General of the United Nations, “nationalist, populist and austerity agendas increase inequality with policies curtailing women's rights and reducing social services”.
I would like to emphasize here that the Portuguese Government is committed in the opposite direction, guaranteeing the consolidation of women's rights and strengthening their protection.
I thank you.