Minister of International Development meeting UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon. Photo: Norway UN Mission/Emma K Lydersen
Equity and access are crucial
Norway’s Minister of International Development, Mr. Heikki Holmås, had three main messages at the UN Economic and Social Council (Ecosoc); the need for more equitable distribution between and within countries, the need to advance and protect women’s rights and strong support to the UN Secretary-General’s “Energy for All”-initiative.
These issues were also discussed in separate meetings with UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and the newly appointed Deputy Secretary General Jan Eliasson of Sweden. Minister Holmås also used the opportunity to raise the sexual and reproductive rights of women in his meetings.
During an event on Women and Employment, co-sponsored by UN Women and the International Labour Organisation, Minister Holmås spoke of both his own upbringing and the Norwegian experience with gender equality. Getting women into the work force is how a country “will get rich”, he said, when asked if only developed countries could achieve gender equality in the work place. Countries need to invest in women, and address the needs of the family. The role of men in the family should not be forgotten, Minister Holmås said, noting that as a child his father was at times the main caregiver. That experience proved to him that both women and men make good parents.
The week at the UN offered a chance to discuss a broad agenda in big and small forums. Minister Holmås addressed the challenges facing South-Sudan, how transnational organized crime is a threat to development and explained to journalists his vision of how the international community should implement the “Rio+20” summit as well as work to reach all the Millennium Development Goals.