This was Ms. Bachelet's first visit to Norway after being appointed head of UN Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women - UN Women - by Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon. The establishment of the UN Women was one of the recommendations of the UN High-Level Panel on Systemwide Coherence, which was co-chaired by Norwegian Prime Minister Stoltenberg in 2006. The two leaders met this week at the Prime Minister's residence in Oslo.
Ms. Bachelet arrived in Norway, just after it was announced that three women will recieve this year's Nobel Peace Prize for their non-violent struggle and for the right of women to participate fully in peace-building work.
“It was brave decision by the Noble Committee to give the Prize to Sirleaf-Johnson, Gbowee and Karman, a president and to strong representatives of grass root women who have made a difference. It is a prize that goes out to all women who is fighting for their rights. And most of all it is a call for action,” said Bachelet at a debate organised by the Forum for Women and Development.
The main report from UN Women this year is named “In Pursuit of Justice” and focuses on the right of women to have access to juridical bodies, human rights and justice for all women. The implementation of Security Council Resolution 1325 on women, peace and security was also the focus of discussions during Ms. Bachelet's talks with Norway's Defence Minister Grete Faremo.
Ms. Faremo stressed that a better gender balance in Norwegian military contingents is a goal.
"Experience shows that safeguarding women increases the local population's confidence in the operation. It's therefore important that women get greater influence over important decisions and that their partipation in peacebuilding work is facilitated. Norway has few women in operative positions in military forces, and will therefore prioritise the recruitment of more women," Defence Minister said.
In addition to the Prime Minister Stoltenberg and Defence Minister Faremo, Ms. Bachelet also met with Minister of Environment and International Development, Mr. Erik Solheim, Minister and Justice and the Police, Mr. Knut Storberget and Minister of Children, Equality and Social Inclusion, Mr. Audun Lysbakken. She also met members of civil society and Members of Parliament.
Norway is UN Women's second largest contributor in 2011 (appx. USD 14.3 million) and serves on its Executive Board.