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OSCE-Australia conference focuses on security of women and girls

( OSCE ) - An OSCE conference on improving security of women and girls, promoting the economic empowerment of women and combatting all forms of human trafficking started in Adelaide in southern Australia on 18 March 2013.



Each year one of the OSCE Asian Partners for Co-operation hosts a conference on security issues and emerging challenges in the broader OSCE area from an Asian-Pacific perspective.


The conference is taking place shortly after more than 130 UN Member States agreed in New York on 15 March on the global plan on the prevention and elimination of all forms of violence against women and girls.


"The topics on the agenda for this OSCE conference have been at the forefront of multilateral discussions throughout the past fortnight," said Australia's Global Ambassador for Women and Girls, Penny Williams, in her opening address to the Adelaide conference. "Over the next two days, you will have an important opportunity to contribute to growing momentum to address the longstanding challenges of violence against women and girls, economic empowerment and the eradication of trafficking."


Ihor Prokopchuk of Ukraine, Chair of the OSCE Permanent Council, said: "Improving the security of women and girls is a key issue in the OSCE, and equally high on the Ukrainian Chairmanship's agenda, as it touches upon political and military, environmental and economic as well as human security issues."


Prokopchuk also stressed the "mutually reinforcing role" the OSCE and Partners for Co-operation could play in the establishment of a security community, "based on share values, which go beyond geographic scope, membership or working methods".


OSCE Secretary General Lamberto Zannier, in his video address to the participants noted that the theme of the conference "reflects the OSCE's comprehensive approach to security".


Zannier emphasized the "importance of striving towards equality and non-discrimination between the genders in the economic sphere". "As significant gender inequalities persist in the economic sphere, the OSCE needs to strengthen its awareness raising and training activities in this area", he said.


The OSCE Special Representative and Co-ordinator for Combatting Trafficking in Human Beings, Maria Grazia Giammarinaro, said: "Trafficking in human beings continues to be a gendered crime. Women are still the majority of trafficked persons, not only for sexual exploitation but also for labour exploitation including domestic servitude, and other forms of trafficking. The promotion of gender equality and women's empowerment are two key preventive strategies."


Ambassador Eoin O'Leary, Permanent Representative of Ireland to the OSCE who chairs the Contact Group with the Asian Partners also took part in the opening of the conference.


Five states are OSCE Asian Partners for Co-operation: Japan, South Korea, Thailand, Afghanistan and Australia.