Australian Permanent Mission and Consulate-General
Switzerland, Liechtenstein

Statement by Australia to the Conference on Statement on the occasion of International Women’s Day, 8 March 2018

Conference on Disarmament

Statement by Australia

8 March 2018

Thank you Madam President

We thank you for all the work you and your team have been doing to identify coordinators for the five subsidiary bodies. We look forward to the next step of focusing on substance.

My purpose in taking the floor is to speak about the value-add of diversity in the Conference on Disarmament – on the occasion of International Women’s Day.

Gender equality is a key value and top foreign policy priority for Australia.

International Women’s Day is a chance to motivate our community to think, act and be gender inclusive.

Gender inclusive responses to global and regional challenges are necessary to support increased stability, security and prosperity.

Achieving gender equity is good policy. It is the smart as well as the right thing to aim for.

Research has shown that more diverse teams are more innovative, take more sustainable decisions and are more effective in resolving impasses.

When I spoke in the CD opening segment, I said that we needed to value and promote diversity - diversity in delegates, and diversity in the countries active in this body. We need to create an enabling environment, an atmosphere where we are prepared to really listen to diverse voices.

Importantly, the pipeline of young people who will work on international security and disarmament is being created now.  If we want good people in this field, they need to see that our forums are dynamic and creative, focused on solving real-world problems and building trust, where women and men contribute equally, to making our world more secure and stable.

We welcome the UN Secretary General’s commitment to gender equality.

Madam President

In keeping with the objectives of the Women, Peace and Security Agenda “UNGA resolution 71/56, urges Member States to: promote equal opportunities for women’s representation in decision-making processes with regard to disarmament, non-proliferation and arms control; and strengthen women’s participation at all levels in organizations in the field of disarmament.

The CD can do more to show leadership in gender equality, and I encourage all delegation’s to think actively about how they can contribute.

One positive example in our community is the Vienna-based Group of Friends for Women in Nuclear established in June 2017, and co-chaired by Australia and Mexico. Twenty-three States have joined this group which works in consultation with the IAEA to identify practical initiatives to increase the representation of women in the IAEA’s Secretariat.

There are other examples – Canada is doing terrific work to better connect the women, peace and security agenda – and Sweden is a well-known champion.

I am personally encouraged by the commitment of many CD delegations. I offer some practical suggestions for how we can do this in our work every day:

  • We can make an effort to be more aware of the gender dimensions of the issues we work on. A gender lens is relevant to every aspect of international security.


  • We can back diversity. We can be mentors to our colleagues and make this a forum where all delegates feel comfortable contributing. Not all of us are experts, and we welcome the chance to learn from experienced colleagues.


  • We can support more women contributing actively in the CD. There are growing numbers of women in disarmament, but fewer at senior levels. If you have more junior women on your delegations, find an opportunity for them to speak in the CD. We need to grow our talent.


  • When we are considering experts, and participation on panels – it is not difficult to find qualified women – it takes a shift in thinking, but our perspectives will be richer for having done so.


Happy International Women’s Day.


Thank you