Norway welcomes the Report of the Secretary-General on Women in Development. It serves as a welcome input to our discussions also on migration and on employment.
We note that there has been an increase in the number of women in the labour force. However, gender segmentation in the labour market and often dismal working conditions, wages and security of female workers are issues we must address to achieve sustained economic growth and sustainable development.
We welcome the ILO’s work on promoting opportunities for women and men to obtain decent and productive work in conditions of freedom, equity, security and human dignity. We also call for the universal ratification of the four ILO conventions that specifically address women’s rights and gender equality in the labour force that are meant to safeguard and protect women’s rights in the labour market.
We agree with the Secretary-General that we need more gender statistics and sex disaggregated data in order to take informed decisions on gender equality in employment. The United Nations and member states should take steps to improve collection of such data and statistics.
The recommendations of the Secretary-General’s Report on eliminating discrimination against migrant women in employment must be adequately addressed. The truth remains that if both men and women are to benefit from the empowering and development potential of migration, there needs to be a shift to a gendered human rights approach to migration.
With migration new challenges often emerge such as the proliferation and feminisation of HIV/AIDS and trafficking in women and children.
International migration has important implications for public health systems. Migration and the HIV/AIDS pandemic are exacerbating an already acute shortage of health care workers. This is a global challenge, and very much in need of strengthened international commitment and focus.
Women currently compromise almost half of all international migrants. However, Norway notes with great concern that women are much more susceptible to falling prey to the perils of human trafficking. Approximately 80 per cent of trafficked victims are estimated to be women and girls. With this comes severe reproductive health consequences, such as rape-related physical and psychosocial trauma, unwanted pregnancies, sexually transmitted diseases and HIV/AIDS.
Norway strongly urges the United Nations to establish policies and practices that address gender equality concerns and migration from a development perspective.
The Millennium Declaration includes a special commitment to ensure that everyone will be beneficiaries of ICT. However, access is still a faraway reality for the vast majority of people. The same goes for many of the new and positive changes brought in by the ICT. For instance, ICT has brought employment gains, for both women and men. However, sex segregation in the information economy, as in many other sectors, is still persistent.
As the outcome document of the World Summit stated, we must jointly strengthen our efforts to position gender mainstreaming, HIV/AIDS, sexual and reproductive health at the forefront of the development agenda.
The new Norwegian government will further intensify its support to initiatives with a clear gender perspective. Norway has decided to increase its contributions to UNIFEM and will also consider favourably other UN organisations that place emphasis on gender equality. More priority will also be given to women’s rights, to health and education, reproductive health, and to prevent gender based violence.
Norway reaffirms its continued support for the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action. The full and effective implementation is essential to the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals.
In the World Summit Outcome, we also agreed to promote increased representation of women in Government decision-making bodies, including participation in political processes. Equal access of men and women to power, decision-making, and leadership at all levels is a necessary precondition for the proper functioning of democracy. Some also argue that gender equality in government decision-making promotes economic development. It would be interesting to explore further the linkages between women’s presence in decision-making bodies, the influence on economic policies, on economic growth and redistribution of resources. We would suggest that this issue be analysed in a future report of the Secretary-General.
In the end, it is the results at the country level that counts. To achieve gender equality at country level, gender perspectives need to be mainstreamed in to all UN operational activities, and not only in a few sectors, such as education and health. We also need to look at sectors such as economic development, environment, and infrastructure. For Norway, it is important to have a strong and co-ordinated UN on gender issues. In that regard, we commend the Secretary-General for taking the initiative to review and strengthen the UN system-wide gender mainstreaming policy and strategy. We look forward to the report to the ECOSOC next year on this issue. Norway will continue to, and strengthen, its follow up on funds’ and programmes’ gender policies and implementation. We have a special opportunity to do so in upcoming board meetings in January.
Thank you, Mr Chairman