OSCE EEC Muttonen 080317Christine Muttonen (third from left) addresses the OSCE's Economic and Environmental Committee in Vienna on International Women's Day, 8 March 2017COPENHAGEN, 8 March 2017 – OSCE Parliamentary Assembly President Christine Muttonen (MP, Austria) spoke today at a special meeting of the OSCE’s Economic and Environmental Committee in Vienna on the occasion of International Women’s Day, addressing women’s economic empowerment and the importance of closing the gender gap to reduce poverty and promote comprehensive security.

Convened by the Permanent Representative of Kazakhstan to the OSCE, EEC Chairperson Kairat Sarybay, today’s meeting was dedicated to promoting the participation of women in economic and environmental decision-making. In her remarks, Muttonen shared her experience as only the second female President of the OSCE PA, and stressed the potential of women in leadership positions in the OSCE, national governments and parliaments, and throughout society.

“There is no reason why women should not be found in the highest positions, be it in business, politics, institutions or diplomacy,” Muttonen said. “No question, progress has already been achieved, but despite this, we still face female underrepresentation in almost all levels of public life.”

She noted that the OSCE aims to guarantee security and pointed out that there cannot be security without the involvement of women. “Women represent half of the world’s population and excluding them from productive and social life is not only discriminatory but also highly counterproductive. One of the top priorities for the OSCE PA is to make sure that parliamentarians are aware of the need for balanced participation of women,” Muttonen said.

The President highlighted the work of the OSCE PA’s Special Representative on Gender Issues, Canadian parliamentarian Hedy Fry, who recently addressed the Assembly’s Winter Meeting on the topic of the gender aspects of migration. Muttonen described the Special Representative’s work in monitoring the gender situation throughout the OSCE area, advising fellow members of parliament and helping identify room for improvement.

In Ottawa, Dr. Fry today reiterated President Muttonen’s call for women’s empowerment and underlined in particular the need for greater focus on the empowerment of migrant and refugee women.

“I would like to take the occasion of International Women’s Day to highlight the plight of women who have undertaken dangerous journeys to reach safety in the OSCE region and continue to face many struggles once they arrive,” Dr. Fry said. “We must actively support the integration of these newcomer women and their families into our communities if we are to continue to develop as peaceful and prosperous countries.”

Muttonen stressed that women are, along with children, the ones most vulnerable to poverty, climate change and political instability. For this reason, the full involvement of women in decision-making is essential, Muttonen said.

“We are committed to closing the gender gap in our organization, in our parliaments and throughout society,” she said. “Women’s economic empowerment is a central contributing factor to improving gender equality and to reducing poverty. And women’s empowerment is also a critical tool to ensure the comprehensive stability and security of the OSCE area and the world.”

President Muttonen also mentioned in her remarks the conference she is organizing in Vienna on 23 March under the theme, “OSCE Security Policy – Female Perspectives,” which will feature the participation of parliamentarians, representatives of OSCE field operations, academicians, and civil society representatives. The conference will include discussions on the role of women in the fight against violent extremism and gender perspectives for a new pan-European security architecture.