At the 2005 World Summit, the world leaders reaffirmed the importance of gender mainstreaming as a tool for achieving gender equality.
In his report to the 61st General Assembly on the measures taken to implement this strategy, the Secretary-General concludes that gender perspectives and the situation of women and girls were not fully incorporated. The resolutions adopted, the outcomes of major events or documentation prepared for these events during the last year are not satisfactory; far from it.
The UN system needs to improve its efforts in regard to gender mainstreaming, in all areas. Gender mainstreaming activities must be an integral part of the work of the organisation. These activities must be funded by core resources instead of depending on contributions by bilateral donors.
Implementing the gender mainstreaming strategy is challenging. This does not mean, however, that the strategy is wrong. But to succeed, the efforts have to be intensified; we all have to do more.
The Government of Norway is proposing a substantial increase in financial support to promote women’s rights. Subject to approval by the Storting, an increase of approx. 60 million US dollars, will be allocated for new targeted interventions for gender equality in 2007 from the budget for international development cooperation. This includes a specific budget line for the advancement of women.
In the efforts to achieve better results, a three-pronged strategy will be followed:
1) Better systems for mainstreaming of the gender perspective at all levels and in all relevant areas.
2) Higher focus on targeted interventions for the advancement of women.
3) Equity in representation.
With regard to gender balance, Norway has chosen to take legal action to increase the participation of women on the boards of the largest 500 privately owned public limited companies as well as in state owned companies.
All privately owned public limited companies are now obliged to have no less than 40% women on their boards. This affirmative action has given results that most certainly would not have been achieved without legislation.
During the last three years, the representation of women on these boards have increased from 7 percent to 21,4 percent.
Internationally, we have also focused on the issue of women’s participation in the economic sector. Norway, United Kingdom and the Word Bank co-hosted, earlier this year, a High Level Conference on the Millennium Development Goals and women’s economic rights.
This led to the development by the World Bank of an Action Plan for Gender entitled “Gender as Smart Economics”. Norway intends to provide substantial support to the implementation of this plan to improve women’s access to markets.
The conclusions in the report of the Secretary-General on the improvement of the status of women in the United Nations to the 61st General Assembly are of great concern.
According to the report: “Both in the United Nations system and in the Secretariat the representation of women in the professional and higher categories remained almost static with negligible improvements and, in some cases, even a decrease in representation”.
Clearly, more consorted efforts are required to achieve gender parity. In this regard, we support the suggested measures in the report to improve the status of women in the UN.
The UN needs a stronger voice for women. The UN reform process is an opportunity to strengthen the role of the organisation in advancing the situation for women. The reform must result in tangible results on the ground.
Norway supports a structure that will enable the UN to better fulfil its obligations in general and deliver at the country level in particular.
Violence against women is a violation of human rights. It is rooted in historically unequal power relations between women and men and the systematic discrimination against women that pervades both in the public and private spheres.
The report from the Secretary-General on violence against women to this session of the General Assembly, is unprecedented. This holistic approach, gives us a better understanding of both the complexity and consequences of violence against women.
Violence against women affects the lives of countless women and is an obstacle to the achievement of equality, development and peace in all continents. We support the six key areas for action identified in the report. The recommendations constitute a clear strategy for Member States and the United Nations systems to make measurable progress in preventing and eliminating violence against women.
To address the problems of violence nationally, the Government of Norway adopted earlier this year an Action Plan against Domestic Violence.
Norway welcomes the initiative by the Netherlands and France for a resolution on violence against women to be adopted by this General Assembly.
More often than not, women are not given access to equal participation and full involvement in peace building processes. We welcome the upcoming open debate in the Security Council on Resolution 1325 that will focus on the roles of women in the consolidation of peace.
It is key that the gender perspective is included in all the work of the Peacebuilding Commission, consistently and from the start.
The Peacebuilding Commission must address gender when the commission considers issues of security sector reform, transitional justice and reconciliation, and land reform and economic infrastructure in the process of developing a country strategy for peace consolidation.
We are looking forward to the first two country-specific meetings, on Sierra Leone and Burundi, later this week. Norway will give a priority to gender issues in the commission.
Norway has strongly argued for a gender expert in the Peacebuilding Support Office. The requirement for gender expertice in this office was acknowledged by the Member States. We encourage the UN to act swiftly in this matter.
Finally, Norway commends India for sending 125 police women to the UN peacekeeping operation in Liberia. This is the first of its kind and we hope other troop providing countries will follow suit.