Speech: Ms Naomi Kitahara on the Occasion of the National Conference on Gender and Development

1 February 2018

Honourable Prime Minister Khurelsukh, Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen;

I am honoured and delighted to be part of the National Conference on Gender and Development today. 

This Conference provides an opportunity for us to reflect together on the key achievements and challenges pertaining to the fulfillment of gender equality in Mongolia.

It also provides a space for us to envision how we can work together to achieve the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. Recognising the impending need to accelerate the progress for gender equality, the UN member states agreed to have a stand-alone Sustainable Development Goal on gender equality – Goal #5, which was one of the key differences from the MDGs. This was complemented by a number of indicators and targets specifically dedicated for gender equality and empowerment of women.

Thus, Gender Equality is not an option or a choice, but Gender Equality is a must.

Mongolia has made a very good progress in achieving gender equality in the past decades. The women’s education level is higher, and their life expectancy is higher. It means that Mongolian women today are healthier, better educated and live longer. We would like to congratulate the Government of Mongolia for this impressive achievements.

However, according to the 2017 Global Gender Gap Index of the World Economic Forum, which provides composite indicators for economic participation, education levels, health and survival, and political empowerment of women, Mongolia is ranked at 53rd among the countries in the world, and political empowerment of women is particularly low, putting Mongolia only at 107th in the world. Also, the United Nations Human Rights Universal Periodic Review (UPR) report, the Report for the UN Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW), and the UN Report on the Social and Cultural Rights all highlighted the two critical areas which Mongolia lags behind the world when it comes to gender equality.

The first is the number of women holding decision-making positions in the public and private sectors. Currently only 17.1% of MPs are women. There are only 2 women Ministers and 5 women Vice Ministers, but there is no woman Governor or State Secretary. Empowering women in leadership roles leads to a more equal and equitable society, which is essential for sustainable development. The Gender Equality Law, which was approved in 2012, has to be fully implemented to make sure that more and more women are placed at higher and decision-making positions, as compared to support functions.

The second, which was highlighted in various UN reports, is about gender-based violence. UNFPA, together with the National Statistics Office, will soon release the final report on the prevalence of gender-based violence, which was conducted for the first time in Mongolia with funding from the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation. The situation is very worrying, requiring urgent attention of policy and decision-makers of the country to eliminate GBV and effectively support victims of violence. The approval of the revised Law on Combating Domestic Violence in December 2016, which shed criminality to perpetrator behaviours, is very much commendable, and we all have to ensure that the Law is being implemented effectively, with sufficient budget allocations at both national and sub-national levels.

In order to address these two critical gender gaps in the country, I would like to respectfully urge the Government of Mongolia to strengthen the national gender machinery. In particular, we would like to advise that the capacities of the National Commission on Gender Equality be enhanced further, and it be placed under the auspices of the Office of the Prime Minister as it was before, between 2005 and December 2014. The NCGE, which is to coordinate all activities implemented by different Ministries as well as by non-state actors, can best function at the highest possible level which provides oversight to the Ministries.

To conclude, we very much congratulate Mongolia for its stronger gender indicators in health and education, but much more should be, and can be, done to create a society where women are a critical part of decision-making at national, sub-national and household levels, and women are free from violence. I would like to share with you what a woman who was interviewed in the above mentioned survey on gender-based violence stated to the interviewer at the end of the interview: She said,

Where were you 10 years ago?”

The interviewer had no words to say, so they just sat down and cried.

Thank you.