I have the honour to thank Mrs. Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, Under-Secretary-General and Executive Director of UN Women, and her team for the valuable information presented to the Board today, and in particular for the presentation of the annual report on the implementation of the 2018-2021 Strategic Plan. We also thank Ambassador Pennelope Beckles, Permanent Representative of Trinidad and Tobago to the United Nations.
We recognize the efforts of UN Women in pursuit of gender equality and the empowerment of women in the world and their contribution to national development strategies. This is evident in the Report presented at this session.
The principle of universality agreed in resolution 64/289, upon which the entity and its Executive Board were founded, should be the paradigm to be followed in the works of this body, since the fight against discrimination against women does not admit the borders that distinguish the countries of the North from those of the South.
The role of the Board and its contribution to strengthening cooperation with Member States is indispensable. At the same time, it is necessary that the works of the Board respond to national priorities, including the elimination of the feminization of poverty. In addition, the balanced treatment of the regulatory and operational aspects must be respected and we must be guided by the mandates adopted by the United Nations Member States, including the decisions of the Board.
We welcome the support offered by the Entity to 107 countries and territories in 2018 and emphasize that, in the area of assistance, it is important to respect each country's legal frameworks as well as the national development priorities.
Cuba was the first country to sign the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women, and the second to ratify it. Several Cuban women have served in their capacity as experts at the United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women.
We have made significant progress in fulfilling the commitments agreed upon in Beijing, and we have a follow-up National Plan of Action of the 4th Conference on Women, led by the Federation of Cuban Women.
In Cuba, universal and free education - a right of all people - is a strategic foundation for promoting participation and empowerment of women and girls, as well as advancing in the eradication of prejudices and all types of discrimination and violence.
The promotion of women to management posts has experienced a sustained growth with 50% of positions. In Parliament they account for 53.22% and occupy two of the three leadership positions of this body; they represent 48.4% of the members of Council of State, 33% of the members of the Council of Ministers, 78% of the prosecutors and 77.5% of the professional judges.
The rights to education, health, sports, recreation, culture, effective judicial protection, participation in the formation, exercise and control of State power, social security and assistance, among others, are government priorities in Cuba, for which more than 60% of the budget is earmarked.
Cuba maintains that the elimination of violence against women and little girls demands the elimination of all unilateral coercive measures. In this regard, the intensified economic, commercial and financial blockade imposed by the United States against Cuba, now with the implementation of Title III of the genocidal Helms Burton Act, is an obstacle to the full development of the country and to the advancement of women; and constitutes, in addition, a form of direct and indirect violence that impacts and hinders the enjoyment of the fundamental rights of Cuban women, including their right to development.
Cuba reaffirms its commitment to the Declaration and Platform for Action of the Fourth World Conference on Women (Beijing, 1995), the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW), and the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and other international instruments.