GA: CPD57 - National Statement

Statement delivered by State Secretary Bjørg Sandkjær at the 57th meeting of the Commission on People and Development

Distinguished guests

Ladies and gentlemen,

Three weeks ago, 172 parliamentarians from 112 countries were gathered in Oslo. At the International Parliamentarian’s Conference, IPCI, the group unanimously adopted the Oslo Statement of Commitment, with a powerful pledge to work to secure SRHR for all. It was truly inspiring. 

Today, I feel inspired again, being present in this room thirty years after the International Conference on Population and Development in Cairo 1994.

The ICPD Agenda is close to my heart, as I was there in 1994, as a Youth Delegate for the World Council of Churches.

At the NGO Forum in Cairo, I met women from different parts of the world who had suffered terrible abuse in the name of population control. Men also told stories of forced sterilisation and other violations of their reproductive rights. As a young person from Norway, these stories made a great impression on me. I understood that SRHR is important in and of itself, but also essential as a component of human rights, social justice, and sustainable development.

Since the Cairo conference, Norway has been a strong supporter of the ICPD Agenda. Protecting women’s and girl’s rights to decide over their own bodies is a key priority in our foreign and development policy.

At the 25th Anniversary of the ICPD in Nairobi, five years ago, Norway made a pledge to invest 1.1 billion US dollars in SRHR internationally, between 2020 and 2025. I am happy to report that we are well on our way to fulfill this pledge.

The focus of our support is access to safe abortion, comprehensive sexuality education, in addition to family planning and contraceptives. I am pleased to announce that Norway will give 8 million US dollars to UNFPA Supplies in 2024, for their important work on delivering a choice of modern contraceptives into the hands of adolescents and women who need them most.

However, despite progress, there is still mounting pressure on SRHR. It is paradoxical that many countries attack women’s rights – and SRHR – to protect family values, while in fact, access to SRHR enables individuals and families to thrive.

As I mentioned yesterday, Gro Harlem Brundtland, our prime minister at that time, also attended the ICPD in Cairo.

I would like to quote from her speech: “This conference is really about the future of democracy, how we widen and deepen its forces and scope. Unless we empower our people, educate them, care for their health, allow them to enter economic life, ‐ on an equal basis and rich in opportunity, poverty will persist, ignorance will be pandemic and people’s needs will suffocate under their numbers. The items and issues of this conference are therefore not merely items and issues but building blocks in our global democracy”.

Whether we work in government, civil society, are young or old, in all our diversity, - let us continue to use these building blocks of the global democracy to the best of our ability. The ICPD Programme of Action is there to guide us, and we will all be better for it.

Thank you.