Mr. Helge Brunborg
New York, 23 March 2004.
Statement by Norway
CPD 37th Session 22-26 March 2004
AGENDA ITEM 4:
General debate on national experience in the implementation of the Programme of Action of the International Conference on Population and Development
Let me start my intervention by noting the UNFPA and DESA questionnaires distributed to member states in connection with the ten-year review of ICPD. Regular reviews of how policies are implemented in the various countries are useful tools.
My delegation is confident that the reports based on the answers to the questionnaires will serve as useful tools in the sharing of Best Practices. We would however have preferred that UNFPA and DESA had developed one consolidated questionnaire, since the two reviews address many similar issues and were distributed at approximately the same time.
The ICPD Programme of Action remains highly relevant for a developed country like Norway. It provides valuable guidance on policies in many areas, particularly on reproductive health and rights.
Although Norway is considered to be among the most advanced countries in the world with regard to gender equality, the Government still see a need for further action.
The Norwegian Gender Equality Act was amended in 2002 to reinforce the prohibition against discrimination on the grounds of gender and against sexual harassment. The amendment also included stronger provisions to ensure equal pay for work of equal value, and an obligation for private employers to actively promote gender equality.
The Norwegian Goverment intends to pass a proposal to the Parliament about incorporation of the CEDAW, including the optional protocol, into Norwegian law, during 2004. The incorporation of CEDAW is believed to strengthen the position of human rights in Norwegian law.
The relatively high Norwegian fertility rate, which is currently 1.8 children per woman, may possibly be a result of measures designed to reconcile family and work outside the home.
One of the most important aims of Norway’s family policy is to enable parents to combine family life with participation in working life, and to enable parents to spend more time together with their children. Employees are entitled to 42 weeks’ parental leave with full pay, provided that the father takes at least four of these weeks. The cash benefit for parents with small children was also increased last year.
Several measures have also been taken to address the issue of gender-based and sexual violence, including implementation of a comprehensive Plan of Action to fight Violence against Women, appointment of an independent commission that will propose further actions, and measures to strengthen national research on gender based violence.
Immigration to Norway has increased sharply in recent years. Due to demographic developments the Government recognises a long-term need for an immigrant work force, and the regulations pertaining to the immigration of workers have been liberalised.
Although human trafficking to Norway is not very extensive, it is a growing problem. The Government has adopted an action plan for combating trafficking in women and children. International co-operation to reduce illegal immigration and human trafficking is a precondition for successful national strategies.
In recent years several measures have been taken to combat female genital mutilation. Norway adopted a separate statute prohibiting genital mutilation in 1995, which also prohibits residents of Norway from pursuing such practices abroad. The penalty for wilfully performing, helping or abetting such procedures is up to eight years’ imprisonment. The Ministry of Health has recently proposed that people who learn about a pending genital mutilation through their work should have a duty to seek to prevent it.
Mr. Chairman ,
HIV/AIDS has not become as great a public health problem in Norway as was projected some years ago, but the number of newly infected persons is still growing and is cause for concern. Several strategies have been implemented to address the spread of HIV/AIDS, including free condoms to people who are HIV positive and their partners, easy access to health services and needle-exchange programmes for drug users, free access to safe contraception for young people and programmes targeted at groups of people thought to be especially vulnerable. Civil society organisations have been indispensable in advocacy and awareness raising efforts and in national strategies to fight sexually transmitted diseases.
I would like to end my intervention, Mr Chairman, by reiterating that a successful follow-up of the goals agreed on in Cairo is dependent on the building of constructive partnerships in which civil society is actively involved, at both local, national and international level.
Thank you, Mr Chairman.