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Statement by Ms. Zaid Mesfin

Director-General of the National Union of Eritrean Women during  62″d Session  of the UN Commission  on the Status of Women New  York,  14 March 2018

Statement by Ms. Zaid Mesfin

Director-General of the National Union of Eritrean Women during  62″d Session  of the UN Commission  on the Status of Women New  York,  14 March 2018

Madam Chairperson,

On behalf of the Government of the state of Eritrea, I  am honored to address the 62nd session of the Commission on the Status  of Women on the priority theme:  “Challenges   and opportunities in  achieving    gender   equality   and  the   empowerment  of  rural  women   and girls”.

I would like to  express my appreciation to you and the  members  of the  bureau for conducting the business of  our session  in an effective and efficient  manner.

I  wish   to pay tribute  to  all women who   fought  and continue to  fight for women’s equality.   Let me equally pay tribute to Eritrean women for their enormous sacrifices in the liberation  of the country and in the emancipation of  women. Women’s  overall status in today’s Eritrea is the result of the efforts and investments  made during the liberation struggle by all freedom fighters. However, gender inequalities persist,   and we as women and the government are determined to address the obstacles to the full realization  of gender equality.

Madam Chairperson,

Eritrea’s actions  in the promotion of women’s  rights are guided by :

•     ensuring gender equality and women’s  rights  in political,   economic  and socio-cultural spheres;

•    protecting equal participation  of women at all levels;

•     securing equal payment for the same job;

•    guaranteeing women’s equal access to land;

•    ensuring gender mainstreaming  into line ministries,  institutions  and private sector; and

•    strengthening  the National  Union  ofEritrean   Women  as the women’s  machinery  to advance women’s  rights.

In  order  to  identify   and  narrow   down  the  existing   gender   gaps,  the  government   of  Eritrea   has formulated   gender  sensitive   policies   and  legislations   in all  sectors  with  the  NUEW  acting  as  the principal  accountable  body on the issues of women  at both national  and international  platforms.

Madam  Chairperson,

Eritrea  is a signatory  to international   and regional  conventions  and declarations,   such  as the  Convention   on the  Rights  of the  Child,  Convention   on the  Elimination   of Discrimination Against  Women;  and the Beijing  Declaration   and Platform  of Action.   Accordingly,  Eritrea  has met  its reporting  obligations   by presenting   the fourth  &  fifth reports to the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women in 2014, and it  has also submitted reports on Beijing +5 and Beijing +20 to share the progresses and gaps in its efforts to implement the 12 areas of concern articulated in Beijing Platform for Action.

Eritrea’s National Gender Action Plan of 2004-2008 and 2015-2019 provide the framework for mainstreaming gender in all sectors and allows to measure the progress of the development  of  Action  Plan  for  effective  planning,   implementation  and  monitoring  of programms  and  projects  that  aim  at  empowering  women.  Some line  ministries who  took initiatives in consultation with NUEW have set clear and achievable Gender Mainstreaming Strategies (GMS). As  a result of the common endeavor and coordination with  partners, the following achievements have been thus far observed>

•    maintaining the provision of free and compulsory basic education to all,  and creating alternative routes to children from pastoral communities who fail to enroll at the right age;

•    increasing the number of female participants in schools at all levels, including at the
tertiary level;

•     transforming the status and livelihoods of rural women through targeted developmental projects;

•    developing specific health policies that address the gender issue at various levels of the rural communities;

•     increasing the role of  the media  to reinforce  the combat against stereotyping, underage marriage, FGM practice, and violence against women;

•     expanding the  Saving  &  Micro  Credit Program  (SMCP) under the  ministry of national development  to  support   female-headed  households  and  women   entrepreneurs  to  be economically self-sufficient

•    reactivating   the  NUEW’s  Credit  Program   which  has  been  able  to  loan  to  nearly   12,000 beneficiaries  in four administrative   regions  of the country;

•     supporting   women   farmers   with   agricultural   inputs,   such  as  water  pumps   to  encourage irrigated farming;

•    removing  barriers  for girls  to go to school  by introducing  the  Donkey  and  Water   canvases project,   mainly   initiated   to  alleviate   the  fatigue   of  fetching   water  in  remote   areas  with profound  impact on girls and women’s  lives over the last decade;

•     building    partnership     at   multilateral     and   bilateral    levels.    The    Strategic    Partnership Cooperation  Framework   (SPCF)  between  Eritrea  and the UN, aims at integrating  policies  on the advancement   of women  and  gender  equality  in all the projects  under  the supervision   of the Eritrean  Ministry  of National  Development;  and

•     increasing  budgetary  resources  from  government  and partners  for the NUEW  that works on advancing  women  and gender equality  programs.

Madam Chairperson,

In spite  of the stated  progress  and  significant  achievements,   the issue  of gender  equality  is still faced  with  some  challenges.   For  instance,  Article  581-329  of the Eritrean  civil  code  states that the  minimum   age  for  marriage   for  both  girls  and  boys  is  18. However,   early  marriage   is not uncommon   in the  rural  areas,  among  less  educated  and  those  with  lower  income.  In the rural areas,  families   emphasize   on  the  physical   maturity  and  the  start  of  menstruation   as the  key indicators   of  fitness   for  marriage.     Moreover,   although   there   are  committed   young  women professional     in  all  administrative    and  managerial   levels  within  the  strata  of the  government, promoting   and  empowering   more   capable   women  is  critical   not  only  for  the  betterment   of women  and girls, but also for the overall societal  advancement.

Madam  Chairperson,

Let’s  join  hands  in removing   all the barriers  our rural communities   face,  and  allow me Madam Chairperson,  to conclude  by expressing  my delegation’s  best wishes   to the successful  conclusion of the 62nd Session  of the UN Commission  on the Status  of Women.

Thank You!


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