Data is never just figures and numbers.
Data tells us the stories of real people: women and men, girls and boys. Their lives, and their well-being.
And data informs decisions.
Which is why it is so important that we do it right.
To bring about the change we are striving for.
Women, peace and security is high on the Norwegian political agenda and has been from the start. But we also recognise the importance of renewing our efforts as we discover new gaps and challenges, and as we identify new opportunities.
This is why we support the Georgetown Institute for Women, Peace and Security and PRIO’s Center for Gender, Peace and Security.
The normative framework of the Women, Peace and Security agenda is solid, yet implementation is too often lacking.
For Norway, investing in the development of the first ever index that collects and compares data on women’s inclusion, justice and security was the right thing to do.
With the availability and use of data, our efforts are better targeted, more relevant and up to date.
When the first Index was launched in 2017, we hoped it would be helpful.
Two years later, we are pleased to report that it is being widely quoted from, and referenced in research and social media. It has also been employed in country analysis and used in strategic policy discussions.
Early on, members of the Security Council pointed to the utility of index in revealing that there are champions in every region. And that there are just as many countries that lag behind.
This shows that there is much we can learn from our neighbours.
No country can study the index and be content with their current status. We all have homework to do.
But at least now we know what our homework is, and who our mentors might be.
The new edition provides interesting insights.
59 countries registered significant improvements, while one country has significantly regressed.
The picture is of course more complex that this one statement suggests.
Which is why you should all study the publication!
But the results do provide encouragement: Despite the pushback on women’s rights that we see in many places, the index also documents that rights are also being better reflected legally.
And that women’s financial inclusion is improving.
These findings can help us identify best practices.
The index clearly shows that these things matter: women’s inclusion, justice and security.
Not only for the individual women and girls, but also for the peace and prosperity of our societies.
There are obvious links between the measured indicators and the overall level of violence and insecurity.
The Index, in this respect, could also inform our conflict prevention work.
The 2019 update benefits from the availability of more, and better, data than the former version.
It includes additional studies that demonstrate variations within three large countries. And it has illustrations and graphs that make the information accessible – even to non-experts like me!
The women, peace and security agenda is not served by generic references to women’s rights or status, nor by simplistic arguments.
We need context-specific input. Nuanced, gendered conflict analyses. And informed gendered plans and strategies for our work.
Our hope is that this index will be a contribution to that end.
I urge you to use it, as we all work to strengthen the implementation of our women, peace and security commitments.