I am speaking on behalf of the Nordic countries Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway and Sweden. We thank the Secretariat for the report.
We remain fully committed to the Beijing Platform for Action and emphasize its implementation – nationally and internationally. It’s a major achievement in defining the rights, status and all prospects for women and girls worldwide.
Investing in women and girls is a cornerstone in supporting inclusive and sustainable development. Still, in many countries in the world, women continue not to have equitable access to good-quality health services. Poor health service coverage is worsened by gender-related barriers of access to prevention, treatment and care. This poses a particular challenge to women’s sexual and reproductive rights, including safe abortion rights and services.
We emphasize the importance of gender analysis in all health work, be it in nutrition, non-communicable diseases, HIV and other STIs, or violence against women. Access to sex-disaggregated data is necessary in all fields of WHO’s work to strengthen the organisation’s gender responsiveness, as we also were reminded of in the Ebola response.
Sexual and reproductive health and rights have been at the core of the Nordic development policies since many years. Women and girls can only be active participants in society if they have the knowledge and rights needed to make decisions concerning the society as well as their own bodies, sexuality and reproductive health. We note especially that violence against women in general, and female genital mutilation in particular, is highlighted as one of the key concerns in the report. Yet, efforts to promote sexual and reproductive health rights continue to meet strong resistance.
We urge the Secretariat and Member States to not look at women’s issues only connected to reproduction and children. Women’s health is equally important through all life-stages. One fundamental determinant of women’s health is often the behaviour of men and boys. More focus is needed on changing the attitudes and behaviours of men and boys that negatively impact women and girls. We note that the MDG’s unfinished agenda requires future investments, while the inclusion of NCDs in the post-2015 agenda will open for more holistic approaches to fulfil the highest attainable standard of health for women and girls.
Finally, the Nordic countries remain active in promoting gender equality and channeling funds aimed at improving the situation of women and girls. We will continue our strong collaboration with WHO, UN organisations and other partners in this work.