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Slovenia in favor of upgrading the Gender Section of the OSCE Secretariat

Statement by Ambassador Andrej Benedejčič, Permanent Representative of Slovenia, on the Secretary General's 2016 Annual Evaluation Report on the Implementation of the 2004 OSCE Action Plan for the Promotion of Gender Equality, at the 1157th Meeting of the OSCE Permanent Council, Vienna, 28 September 2017 

Mr. Chairperson,

I would like to thank the Secretary General Greminger for his report. I would also like to thank the Special Representative of the OSCE Chairmanship-in-Office on Gender Issues, Ambassador Verveer, for her statement today. 

In addition to what has been already said on behalf of the European Union, I would like to underline the special importance that my country attaches to the issue of gender mainstreaming.  This is why two years ago the Slovenian Government adopted its second National Programme for Equality between Women and Men.  This is also why half of the members of this same Government are themselves women.  My Delegation therefore supports the comprehensive approach of the OSCE Secretariat to this issue and welcomes the transition to a new form of results-based reporting, as well as the three-year Road Map for the implementation of the Gender Action Plan. 

The report itself shows that the OSCE has come a long way. As far as staffing is concerned, gender balance has been achieved within the OSCE professional and general service categories.  At the same time, I must note that this achievement has not yet been replicated at the senior management levels, particularly among heads and deputy heads of missions.  I think it is therefore safe to say that we all count on the Secretary General to exercise the necessary leadership, which is needed in overcoming the still-lingering sterotypes and the hidden glass ceilings.

I think that this kind of top-level attention to this issue is all the more important in light of what is taking place at other international organizations here in Vienna.  Indeed, one of the surprising aspects of my current role as the Chair of the OSCE MenEngage Network is that it has taken me also to the other side of the river.  I am therefore glad to report that my Delegation was actively engaged in organizing the launch of the Vienna chapter of the International Gender Champions, which took place at the Vienna International Center on June 14.  I also think it is great that in addition to the senior representatives of the UNODC, the IAEA, the CTBTO and UNIDO, the OSCE was also represented at this event in the person of the Director of the Office of the Secretary General.  Let me therefore use this opportunity to recognize Ambassador Bekkers for his attachment to gender equality, as well as for undertaking important personal commitments, including promoting affirmative action in the OSCE and striving for a balance of work and family life for both women and men. 

One of the reasons why comparing notes among Vienna-based organizations might prove useful is because they face similar challenges.  As we heard earlier from both the Secretary General and the Special Representative, the OSCE is actively considering ways of enhancing women's recruitment in the political-military dimension, including in the Special Monitoring Mission to Ukraine.  At the same time,  the IAEA is also trying its best to attract as many women as possible to professional opportunities in science and technology.  In fact, both organizations are currently at almost the same level of the proportion of women in higher and senior management positions, at 28% and 29.4% respectively.  Of course, having said this, it is equally important to recognize that further progress on this issue also very much depends on the engagement of the participating States themselves.  Let me, therefore, use this opportunity to call on colleagues who have not yet done so to join the International Gender Champions initiative.  It is never too late.

Finally, I would like to recognize the important work of the Senior Gender Adviser.  Since her arrival here half a year ago Ms. Darisuren has managed to establish herself as the crucial driving force behind the efforts to promote gender equality within the OSCE.  My Delegation therefore supports the proposal by the Secretary General to make her work even more prominent by embedding a strong gender architecture within executive structures, also by upgrading the Gender Section.

Thank you.