Closing Statement on Gender Equality and Women's Empowerment

As delivered by Ambassador Anne-Kirsti Karlsen at the Chairpersonship’s Gender Equality and Women’s Empowerment Conference, Tetovo, 6 September 2023.

Mr Chair,

Excellencies, and colleagues,

Let me start by thanking North Macedonia for providing us with this excellent platform for exchange on gender equality in all three dimensions of security. Norway would be supportive to follow-up initiatives, and would be glad to see this conference as an annual, or at least regular event.

In the OSCE, we are in a situation where consensus on new commitments seems unlikely, on this and all other issues. This should not prevent us from pursuing all aspects of gender equality. On the contrary, I have seen a lot of progress in many OSCE participating and partner States on gender equality, and on the implementation of the Women, Peace and Security Agenda. The context of the Russian aggression in Ukraine amplifies the need to continue, and strengthen, this work.

In many of our countries, we see a polarized political landscape. Unfortunately, the issue of gender equality and all agendas related to this, are considered divisive by some people. It is hard to understand how including the whole population in society can be divisive, but unfortunately, this is where we are.

That is why we have to make sure that our efforts are broad and inclusive. They should include both or all genders and generations. We have experienced that it is important that this work is institutionalized, both within our countries, and in international organisations. This ensures further progress when personalities or parties change. I am proud and happy to see how the OSCE executive structures, including the field missions and offices, seem to integrate and mainstream gender equality in their work. We also see merit in pursuing the idea of a voluntary Action Plan on Women, Peace and Security within the OSCE.

Next week, Norway will launch its next National Action Plan on Women, Peace and Security. We see that we still have work to do at home, for instance in our own security and defence sector. We are ready to openly share our experience, both with regards to our domestic challenges, as regarding our international commitments and experience.  

Let me once again thank the OSCE Chair, North Macedonia, for their hospitality. And let me also say that it gives me hope to see the initiatives and engagement on the issue of gender equality, not least from countries in this region, South-East Europe.

Let me quote one colleague here: You cannot win with only half the team.

I thank you!