Thank you to the Impact Group Co-Chairs, H.E. Michael W. Lodge (Secretary General of the International Seabed Authority) and H.E. Fekitamoeloa ʻUtoikamanu (Minister of Foreign Affairs, Kingdom of Tonga) for convening this important meeting, and thanks to USG Miguel de Serpa Soares for sharing your perspective on legal aspects as well as gender parity and ocean governance. I apologize for not being able to attend the meeting in person due to previous commitments, but it is an honor to be asked to say a few words in support of this important initiative of the IGC.
The launch of the Impact Group on “Ocean and Women” (IGROW) is timely: indeed, 2022 is a crucial year for the oceans. The momentum is there and will culminate at the United Nations Ocean Conference at the end of June, where the focus will not only be on SDG 14, but where the links with all the other SDGs will also be recognized. And the interaction with SDG 5 which is the “raison d’etre” of the IGC is one to focus on. In this regard, we are happy to have contributed to the gender aspect being reflected in the UNOC Draft Political Declaration.
Norway, heavily dependent on ocean resources for its economy, places high priority on achieving SDG 14 on the conservation and sustainable use of the oceans. Norway also places a high priority on full meaningful and equal participation by women. This of course also goes for ocean and science. Thus, we can only doubly support IGROW.
Yet even in my own country, although we have a high degree of gender equality, only 16 percent of employees in Norwegian shipping companies are women. At sea that number drops further to 7 percent women.
Looking beyond our own borders – and beyond only numbers: in ocean research, 40% of all ocean scientist are women. However, very few of those women are from the Least Developed Countries (LDCs), Landlocked Developing Countries (LLDCs) and Small Island Developing States (SIDS).
A reminder that we all still have our work cut out for us. And that diverse representation and knowledge is vital to ensure a sustainable ocean for future generations.
A final point: according to UN Environment, women from communities in Mexico all the way to the Philippines have pioneered innovative solutions to deal with ocean related issues that have devastate local communities, such as tidal surges, salinity, and waste management. Gender-responsive approaches can lead to gender-responsive budgeting. This would allow us to make concrete steps forward in tackling issues related to both ocean sustainability and gender equality.
It has been proven time and again, that empowering women and girls has a multiplier effect, and helps drive up economic growth and development across the board. So, what are we waiting for? It is up to us, senior government officials, private sector and civil society leaders, to advance the participation of women in all aspects of ocean issues.
I remain a dedicated International Gender Champion and welcome the new group on Ocean and Women I wish you a successful launch of the IGROW and fruitful discussions that will likely fuel the future activities of the Group. Thank you.