Official speeches and statements - March 8, 2019
Executive Director, chère Phumzile,
Ambassadors, with special greetings for the Ambassador of Tunisia, of course, with whom we are organizing this reception,
It is a huge pleasure for my whole team—among whom I would like to single out Raphaël Dang—and for me to welcome you this evening to the French mission, on the eve of International Women’s Day. It is a very special, very important day for France and, I believe, for each one of us this evening, and we would like every day to be a women’s day.
I am deeply honored to welcome all of you here tonight, together with my Tunisian colleague, and with the wonderful team of UN Women. And I’d like to offer a special word of thanks and admiration to UN Women Executive Director Phumzile, with whom we work so closely, together with Asa and the team. Thank you from the bottom of my heart for your contagious commitment, that is second to none.
All of us here tonight - and I want to thank you all: policymakers, diplomats, UN actors, civil society players, including of course the media but also the women’s rights activists and business leaders ; and I would like to say a particular word of appreciation to Francine LeFrak who is with us this evening - all of us should be committed to making the 8th of March and every other day a day of progress for gender equality and women’s empowerment.
Tonight, with UN Women and Tunisia, we wanted to shed light on the special role played by the progressive media. All of you indeed have contributed to profoundly changing mindsets, notably with the "MeToo" movement but of course we count many other movements in other countries. And in France for example you have countless other movements of the same kind that are really moving mountains. We see the opportunity here for a paradigm shift, addressing not only the consequences of gender inequalities and gender-based violence but also its deep root causes. We are trying to lead that fight here at the UN - with three other countries, for instance, we recently created, in this very room actually, a group of friends to eliminate sexual harassment. And that was, n’est-ce pas Raphaël, a tremendous success, beyond all expectations. So let’s have a real "UNToo" movement! Now is the time I believe. And your presence here today, just a few days prior to the 63rd Commission on the Status of Women, the CWS, is a strong symbol. Many of you and so many women with access to the media have acted as the spokespersons for billions of other women and girls around the world whose voices had been silenced for so many years. We are here tonight to celebrate you, among the leading journalists and global media who have helped raise awareness on those burning issues, to call for the respect of women’s rights and to change women’s everyday lives.
As you know, that fight is a top priority for France and for President Macron himself. He has made equality between women and men the great national cause of his term, not "a" national cause, "the" national cause of his term and one of the highest priorities of the current French G7 Presidency. Together with our Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian and our gender parity Minister Marlène Schiappa, who will be here for the CSW, President Macron officially made our diplomacy a feminist diplomacy, and it means a lot to us. President Macron just decided, I believe it was announced yesterday, to establish a fund amounting to €120 million (it is about $150 million) per year to help movements working for equality between women and men and feminist movements, particularly in the global south. France is also striving to make the Istanbul Convention on preventing and combating violence against women universal.
For quite a long time now, this fight has also been a key priority for my country here at the UN. This is the case in our current work at the Security Council, which we are presiding this month. We have invited several civil society briefers so that the Council can hear the voices of women in the field, those confronted to conflicts in particular. We will also host an Arria meeting of the Council on the Women, Peace and Security Agenda on the 13th of March, that Marlène Schiappa will chair. Another example is the General Assembly resolution we are co-facilitating with the Netherlands to eliminate all forms of violence against women and girls. And last winter, we were the co-authors of the first ever General Assembly resolution on the elimination of sexual harassment. It was high time we did it frankly.
A deep change must be made. 154 countries have passed laws on sexual harassment. We need to make it a universal pattern. We also need to make sure those laws are effective and implemented. And we all know this is not the easiest part.
My dear friends, I strongly believe that there is a true revolution taking place here at the UN with respect to gender parity, in the broad sense. It is a revolution in terms of substance: Girls’ access to education, women’s empowerment and the fight against all kinds of violence toward women and girls are now central to the UN efforts. These priorities are no longer footnotes as was too long the case, they are chapter headings. It’s no longer PR or marketing. These are strategic and action-driven goals.
It is also a revolution in terms of method: wherever we look, women are an indispensable part of the solution. We simply cannot succeed without women. This is true for peace, for development, for human rights, for the fight against climate change. In each case, women are one of the keys, if not the key to the solution. This is part of the ongoing revolution and nobody can stop it because otherwise we simply cannot make it.
For all of these reasons and many others, you can count on France to remain at the forefront of the international fight for women. This is our common fight. My warmest thanks again to all of you.