Permanent Mission of Portugal to the United Nations

Ministry of Foreign Affairs

Statement by H.E. Ms. Teresa Morais, Secretary of State for Parliamentary Affairs and Equality, General Debate, 59th Session of the Commission on the Status of Women

New York, 10 March 2015

Fifty-Ninth Session of the Commission of the Status of Women 

Mr Chair,

Distinguished delegates,

Portugal participated in a committed way in the development and adoption of the Beijing Platform for Action. We have also contributed to the process of evaluation of the implementation of the Platform, within the European Union with a view to the annual review of its implementation.

In the last two decades, the growing institutional recognition of the importance of gender equality in the construction of sustainable development and peace, led to an improvement of the legal systems in relation to equality between women and men.

In Portugal, the Constitution consubstantiates the principle of equality regardless of sex and establishes as a fundamental task of the State the promotion of equality between women and men.

Women's real situation also reveals, over the last 20 years, remarkable progress, globally and also in our country.

Since the 90s of the twentieth century, Portugal has established policies for equality through National Plans for Equality, Against Domestic Violence and Human Trafficking, and Programs on the Elimination of Female Genital Mutilation as well as National Action Plans for Implementation of the United Nations Security Council Resolution 1325.

The area to which we give strong priority, with evident results, is the domestic and gender-based violence, through a policy designed to protect victims, to condemn the aggressors, to prevent the phenomena, to sensitize and train professionals that intervene on this area, expanding the necessary support structures - the national support network for victims of domestic violence. Portugal defended the inclusion of a stand-alone goal on violence against women and girls in the post-2015 agenda because this is, definitely, the most abominable expression of inequality. We are aware that this position didn’t gain leverage in the negotiation process and we regret that this might be a lost opportunity to put violence against women and girls amongst the priorities in the international agenda.

There has also been special concern with preventing and combating female genital mutilation, a phenomenon that Portugal faces due to the existence of immigrant communities from countries where that practice is current.

In 2013 Portugal ratified the Council of Europe Convention on the Prevention and Combating Violence against Women and Domestic Violence, being the first European Union Member State to do so.

I also must mention the progress made with regards to education, where there is complete parity between boys and girls, and health, where the country has one of the lowest maternal and Child mortality Rates in the global context.

Also, in the political participation of women, due to a law of 2006 which established a minimum representation of 33% of the underrepresented sex in the lists of candidates for election to the National Parliament, to the European Parliament and to local authorities, remarkable advancements were attained. Despite progress achieved in the last two decades, challenges still remain.

The unequal sharing of family responsibilities between women and men continues to constrain the participation of women in political and civic life. Several initiatives have been developed in order to meet this challenge, including parental leave to stimulate a higher involvement of fathers, increasing the awareness of companies in order to facilitate the balance between professional, family and personal life.

Gender wage gap continues to penalize women, even though, in Portugal, the average wage gap is lower than the EU average. Efforts have been made to understand the real extent of these differences, and recently a new tool was created to enable companies to identify the causes of the gender pay gap, allowing the development of strategies to correct them.

Women's access to top economic decision making posts is also one of the areas where the results achieved by Portugal are still insufficient. To combat this imbalance, actions have been taken to encourage companies to take self-regulatory measures to promote balanced representation of both sexes in their management bodies. A Resolution of the Council of Ministers was approved last week that will lead us, in the coming months, to intense negotiations with the listed companies to achieve 30% of women by 2018.

Violence against women and girls and inequalities in the labor market will continue to be our priorities for the next years!

Thank you for your attention!

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