Photo: Norway UN Mission/Emma K. Lydersen.Photo: Norway UN Mission/Emma K. Lydersen

Norwegian gender equality policies in focus at the UN

3/9/2010 // Norway attracted attention as the Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) began its 54 Session in New York last week. The Minister for Children, Equality and Social Inclusion, Mr. Audun Lysbakken, was the only male speaker scheduled to speak on the opening day. The UN Secretary-General invited Norway and China to share the podium when the UN marked the International Women's Day. And Lysbakken’s speech at the launch of MassiveGood, a new and innovative financing mechanism for health, garnered applause from the audience and an appreciative nod from former US President Bill Clinton.

Most of the 8,000 people who had signed up to follow the CSW session were women. The minister came across as something both unusual and refreshing even before he entered the debate at the UN. Lysbakken used the occasion to emphasize, among other things, men's role and responsibility in promoting gender equality and women's rights. He also stressed that we still have not reached many of the goals set at the Fourth World Conference on Women in Beijing15 years ago.

"The fight for gender equality must continue because women in both rich and poor countries are poorer, earn less and receive less education than boys and men. Girls and women are often unable to access the most basic health services. Violence is still committed against women and girls the world over - an issue that affects all walks of life," said Lysbakken in the opening address on Tuesday. One of his main messages to the Commission was that "gender equality makes economic sense."

Photo: Norway UN Mission/Emma K. Lydersen.Photo: Norway UN Mission/Emma K. Lydersen

During Wednesday's ceremony at the UN to mark International Women's Day, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon urged delegates to ensure that the new UN gender equality entity is established quickly. At this, a group in the audience got up and rolled out posters spelling "Gear up now!" in support of his plea. This drew laughter and cheers from the podium and the crowd. Like Ban Ki-moon, Lysbakken also emphasised the need to set up the gender equality entity without delay in his speech.


On his last day at the UN the minister participated in the launch of a new and innovative financing method for health. “MassiveGood” was launched by the Secretary-General and former US President Bill Clinton with the click of a mouse. The project will enable travellers to donate $2 when booking flights from the US, UK, Germany, Spain, Switzerland or Austria. The funds will be channeled through MassiveGood directly to a procurement system for medicines against HIV/Aids, tuberculosis and malaria and to the fight against child and maternal mortality in poor countries.

The Norwegian gender equality model drew a lot of attention from both CSW delegates and the international media. During the week Lysbakken was interviewed by Al Jazeera English, CBC (Canada), NHK (Japan) and ForbesWomen.

Go to Norway at the UN on Flickr to see more photographs. 

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