H.E. Ms. Laila Dåvøy
Ministry of Children and Family Affairs
3 March 2004
Madam Chair, fellow delegates,
It is a great pleasure to be here to address this assembly.
Gender equality should not mean giving less priority to men, but means new possibilities for them to live a different life from the traditional one. If we are to achieve real equality, men must participate in these efforts. The Commission’s decision to address this issue is therefore a timely one.
Let me give you one example on how we are giving men more choices in the name of gender equality: In 1993 it was decided that four weeks of the total parental leave would be reserved exclusively for fathers. If the fathers choose not to take these four weeks, which are paid, these weeks are deducted from the total period of the parental leave. Before this was introduced, only 3 per cent of Norwegian fathers had taken parental leave. Today 85 per cent make use of this right.
The father’s rights to care for their infants in these four weeks are no longer a matter of discussion, neither in family nor in working life.
The Norwegian government intends to build further on this new attitude, and the Norwegian parliament recently decided to extend the leave period even further and to continue to focus on the role of men.
Despite the achievements Norway can point to in the field of gender equality, there are still some challenges ahead: One of them is that the Norwegian business sector is still dominated by men.
Although women make up 42 per cent of cabinet positions and although 37 per cent of members of parliament are women, currently they only make up 8.5 per cent of board members of Norwegian public limited companies. If by 2006 these companies have not rectified this imbalance voluntarily, new legislation will come into effect to ensure that women make up at least 40 per cent of all board members.
Another serious challenge both on a national and international level is men’s violence against women and children, including sexual exploitation. Men need to discuss causes for male violence against women and children both in private life and in situations of war and conflict, and address men’s responsibility on this matter.
I would like to turn to women’s participation in conflict prevention and post-conflict peace-building. Security Council Resolution 1325 has caused us to focus more closely on the linkages between gender equality and peace and stability, and the Norwegian government is following it up at the national level. Last month we decided to establish a forum that will meet regularly to discuss this issue, consisting of representatives from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Ministry of Children and Family Affairs and members of civil society.
From a donor perspective Norway will continue to support activities that take due account of gender balance in peace negotiations, in reconciliation teams and in constitutional, legal and electoral commissions. We will continue to support the inclusion of gender units in peacekeeping operations. We will support training on codes of conduct, gender sensitivity and awareness, especially as regards domestic violence, trafficking and sexual violence.
Women’s equal and active participation is essential for democracy, whether in peaceful or in conflict situations. In post-conflict situations, greater participation by women gives more legitimacy to transformation processes and can thereby promote stability and lasting peace. Women’s participation is also crucial to good policy making and implementation.
Thank you for your attention.