I am very pleased to have this opportunity to speak to you all.
We are joined here today, one year before the 30th anniversary of the Cairo Programme of Action, the ground-breaking agreement we made at the International Conference on Population and Development in Cairo 1994.
I was myself a youth delegate at the conference in 1994. Participating in Cairo has influenced how I see the world, and my understanding of how powerful we can be when we join forces. I am happy to know that there are youth delegates here today, and I wish you a great and meaningful experience.
A lot of progress has been made since 1994, but too much remains.
The inequalities both between and within countries are striking.
We must act to close these gaps.
This year’s topic of the CPD, education, is a key to empower a person’s life. It can transform both individuals, and communities. Since Cairo, the increased access to education globally has changed the fabric of societies and the world at large, not least for women and girls.
We know that for girls to be healthy and fully engaged in education, access to sexual and reproductive health and rights is crucial. Yet, SRHR is subject to increasing pushback.
The Norwegian government is a strong defender of SRHR. Comprehensive Sexuality Education is part and parcel of realizing these rights. It has a positive effect on young peoples’ knowledge, health, and well-being, which follow them throughout their life cycle.
Evidence shows that it reduces the number of early pregnancies, child marriages, and numbers of abortion. Evidence also suggest that it delays sexual debut and can reduce gender-based violence.
CSE does not take place in a vacuum. We know that our children and young people can see sexual content on the internet, often very misleading.
At this vulnerable time in life, adolescents need both guidance and independence. They need education. Hence, we must provide them with knowledge to enable them to understand what they see and rectify misconceptions. CSE helps to enable young people to become more confident about setting their own boundaries and respect the boundaries of others.
It is equally important to educate girls and boys.
Too many young people lack the knowledge, access, and power they need to make informed actions about their sexual and reproductive health.
Together we must mobilize different stakeholders such as parents, community members and religious leaders and politicians, for them to better understand the long-term benefits of CSE.
We - as governments - have a responsibility to do what we can to enable young people to live healthy and good lives.
With equal access to sexual and reproductive health and rights. This includes the right to comprehensive sexuality education, but also prevention and family planning, safe and legal abortions and safe expression of sexual orientation.
Norway remains committed to delivering on the ICPD and Agenda 2030.
Let us all join efforts and work together for our girls and our boys, for all our young people, so that they can live healthy lives and have a fulfilling future.