Thank you, Chair.
It was a historic moment in September last year when the United Nations agreed on the 2030 Agenda. Now it is time for us all to follow up.
Gender equality is both a stand-alone goal and an integrated part of the other goals. This was a key priority for Norway during the negotiations. The Sustainable Development Goals make it imperative to strengthen our efforts for gender equality. The targets are ambitious. To succeed, we must make use of women's resources and talents.
Girls and women must have equal access to education, jobs and decision-making. This is the only way we can reach our goals. Sustainable development depends on women's empowerment.
Empowerment is about education.
Education is the most important investment we can make to empower women. Education is the way out of poverty. It also has significant health gains; it prevents child marriages and early pregnancies.
The Norwegian government is in the process of doubling our financial contribution to education for development in the period 2013 – 2017.
It is vital that girls not only start school. They must also complete their education and enjoy equal access to the labour market.
Empowerment is about absence of violence.
All women have the right to a life without violence. Today 1 in 3 women experience physical or sexual violence during their lifetime. Even in Norway, one of the most gender equal countries in the world, gender based violence is a major problem.
More than 600 million women live in countries where domestic violence is not punishable. Over 60 million girls are child brides – married off before their 18th birthday.
Today there are more refugees in the world than ever since the Second World War. Female migrants live with an especially high risk of violence.
Let us unite in fighting violence and harmful practices, such as child, early and forced marriage and female genital mutilation.
To succeed in fighting violence, boys and men must be part of the solution. Men have a crucial role to play as fathers, brothers, friends, decision makers, and community and opinion leaders. I commend UN Women for launching the campaign HeForShe to raise men's engagement for gender equality.
Empowerment is also about having control over our own sexuality.
Every woman must be in a position to decide for herself if she wants children, when and how many children she wants.
We can never accept that religion and so-called traditional values are used as an excuse to deprive women of their rights. We cannot accept that more than 800 women die every day from preventable causes related to pregnancy and childbirth. Access to sexual education, birth control and safe abortions is central to give women and girls control over their own bodies and lives.
Chair, Now it is time to deliver on the goals we have set for 2030.
Norway will continue to play a leading role so that women all over the world will be able to:
- Set their own goals,
- define their own future
- and fulfill their potential.
To reach our common goals, we need to involve those who represent the future. Youth must be encouraged to participate in democratic processes and the development of society.
Civil society organizations have played a critical part in getting us to where we are. They must continue their good work to help ensure that we remain on track until 2030.
It is time to unite for the empowerment of all girls and women – including those with disabilities and those who belong to ethnic minorities.
We must ensure that no girl is left behind.