Under Secretary General Michelle Bachelet of UN Women at discussion on gender equality  - the Nordic way. 
Photo: Cia Pak/ Scannews.Under Secretary General Michelle Bachelet of UN Women at discussion on gender equality - the Nordic way. Photo: Cia Pak/ Scannews

Nordic Region praised by UN chief

3/2/2012 // Michelle Bachelet of UN Women praised the the gender-equality policies of the Nordic countries' when she attended a seminar hosted by the Nordic Council of Ministers at the UN on Wednesday 29 February.

"The Nordic countries would do well to share their gender-equality policies with other parts of the world," Michelle Bachelet, First Under-Secretary-General and Executive Director of UN Women, said when she attended the Nordic Council of Ministers' fringe event at the UN on Wednesday 29 February.

For the Danish equality minister, involving men and boys in gender-equality work is absolutely essential.

"I want to be a leading figure in this struggle. We can't afford not to involve men and boys in gender-equality work," Manu Sareen said at the UN on Wednesday.

 

Bachelet agreed that getting men and boys involved is crucial to achieving gender-equality goals.

"We won't achieve equality without involving men and boys. An inclusive approach to gender also benefits men," she told the Nordic seminar.

The Finnish State Secretary Jarmo Lindén, drew a direct parallel between gender-equality challenges in rural areas in the Nordic Region and in some African countries. While many African men migrate from rural areas to towns for work, it tends to be Nordic women who move to urban areas.

"We face a common challenge. It's important to create good living conditions for both men and women in rural areas," Lindén said at the seminar.

One way of getting Nordic women back to rural areas, according to the Swedish State Secretary, Amelie von Zweigbergk, is to promote entrepreneurship among women.

Arni Hole, Director General of the Norwegian Ministry of Children, Equality and Social Inclusion, pointed out that Nordic men have supported social programmes, education, day care for all and maternity and paternity leave – all measures that facilitate equality.

"Why have male politicians supported equality? Well, because they want to protect the rights of both genders," she told the UN delegates who had turned up for the event.

Despite the financial crisis, Iceland has topped the World Economic Forum's Gender Gap Report for the last three years, making it one of the most equal countries in the world.

"We are proud of our ranking, but it doesn't mean that we don't still face challenges," said Kristín Ástgeirsdóttir, director of the Icelandic Centre for Gender Equality.

According to Ástgeirsdóttir, equal pay and health are among the challenges that remain.

"Gender equality fosters freedom and allows people to live the lives they want. The Nordic countries have shown how this can be achieved," Bachelet said.

The Nordic event was held in conjunction with the 56th Session of the UN Commission on the Status of Women (CSW56) which started on Monday 27 February.


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