Gender equality and women’s rights are legally binding norms and part of international law.
It is critical to all areas of a healthy society, from protecting democracy and reducing poverty to promoting the health, education, protection and the well-being of all girls and boys, women, and men. We know this. It is repeated, again and again.
However, gender inequality persists everywhere and stagnates social progress. There are overarching challenges, such as the pandemic, conflicts, and climate changes, which disproportionally affects women and girls in all their diversity.
Last year, the UN Secretary General noted that achieving gender equality is “the greatest sustainable development challenge of our age”. It is crucial that next year's Summit of the Future has a clear gender perspective.
With only seven years remaining, a mere 15.4 per cent of Goal 5 indicators with data are “on track”.
At the current rate, it will take an estimated 300 years to end child marriage, 286 years to close gaps in legal protection and remove discriminatory laws, , and 47 years to achieve equal representation in national parliaments. These are staggering numbers.
We appreciate the efforts of the Secretary General to ensure gender parity at the top level in the UN. However, we are still far away from the target of equal representation. We must nominate more women also as members in UN bodies, and vote for them.
It is crucial to not frame women and girls as solely victims of the challenges of our times. Women and girls are actors. The potential of half the population must be better utilized.
For Norway, protecting the rights of all to decide over their own bodies, is a key priority in our international efforts for gender equality. It is important in its own right, but also as part of protecting fundamental freedoms more broadly.
Unfortunately, we are increasingly witnessing a global democratic backsliding, with women’s rights and gender equality under attack. In many places, there is a weakening of rights and norms with devastating, real-life impact for women and girls on the ground. Discrimination and violence based on sexual orientation and gender identity is part of this democratic backsliding.
This requires the world to be more consistent in our support to the UN’s normative work, civil society and other actors – but also more creative and well-coordinated.
Next years it is 30 years since the International Conference and Population and Development in Cairo. It will be the year to do a sober review of the status quo, but also to celebrate milestones and inspire further action. Norway is deeply committed to the ICP30 agenda.
This fall, we are launching a new Action Plan on Women’s Rights and Gender Equality, and we recently launched the new Action Plan on Women, Peace and Security.
In alignment with these actions plans, we look forward to working together with the UN system, its Member States, and civil society with the aim of reaching the sustainable development goal 5.
A just world is an equal world. Let us create it together.