Violence prevents all too many women from living a full life. Violence reinforces discrimination of women in education, prevents them from participating in political, cultural and social arenas, and from gaining control over economic resources. Violence against women is a global phenomenon, but the forms it takes may vary according to local beliefs, culture and tradition. No form of violence against women is acceptable, nor impunity for these crimes and severe violations of women’s human rights.
Violence against women is one of the main obstacles to achieve development, that is why Norway has made it as one of four priority areas in our work on women’s rights and gender equality in our development cooperation. We strongly support the system-wide funding mechanism, the UN Trust Fund in Support of Actions to Eliminate Violence Against Women. This year Norway will contribute over four million US dollars to the fund, and we urge other member states to follow suit.
Gender-based violence is being used as a strategy in civil wars. Norway’s humanitarian policy includes enhanced focus on gender-based violence in armed conflict. In this regard, Norway supports the newly established fund UN action against sexual violence in conflict and has contributed approximately 360,000 US dollars.
Effective measures must be taken to abandon harmful traditional practices such as female genital mutilation. Norway welcomes the joint programme of UNFPA and UNICEF Abandonment of Female Genital Mutilation/Cutting: towards social convention change. The objective is to contribute to the abandonment of FGM/C in 17 countries in Africa. Norway has provided support to this programme with approximate 3.7 million US dollars. We urge other member states to join forces in these efforts.
More and better quality data is needed to map and monitor progress in our combat against all forms of gender based violence. We welcome the four new targets under the Millennium Declaration that was adopted by the General Assembly during its 61st Session – three of which are of particular importance for women:
- A new target under MDG 1: to make the goals of full and productive employment and decent work for all, including for women and young people, a central objective of our relevant national and international policies and our national development strategies.
- A new target under MDG 5: To achieve universal access to reproductive health by 2015, and
- A new target under MDG 6: to come as close as possible to universal treatment for HIV/AIDS by 2010 for all those who need it.
Norway welcomes and supports initiatives aiming to develop indicators and statistics to measure and assess the problem as well as strategies for its elimination. We urge the UN to start to monitor and report on the new MDG targets immediately.
In this regards, we welcome the establishment of the Gender, Institutions and Development Database developed by the OECD Development Centre, to which Norway has provided support. The database aims to measure and compare gender discrimination using qualitative indicators, not least in terms of how gender based violence affects women's and girls position in society.
Norway congratulates the CEDAW Committee and all its members on the work carried out the last 25 years on the monitoring of the implementation of the Convention by all its States Parties.
To further reinforce monitoring and implementation of the Convention, we see it as vital to give the Committee the necessary tools and space for performing the tasks assigned to it. The Committee itself has taken significant steps to enhance its working methods over the years. However with an increasing number of ratifications, it now stands at 185 States Parties and, with an Optional Protocol with 88 ratifications, it is evident that the Committee can not deal with an ever increasing workload without being given the necessary time, and the possibility, for part of its sessions, to work in parallel working groups.
Norway would like to use this opportunity to congratulate the CEDAW-committee on clearing much of their backlog. To ensure an effective implementation of the Convention, there is a need to continue to enhance the Committee's capacity to deal with reports being submitted by State Parties. Expanded meeting-time and parallel working groups for parts of its session also allowed the experts to delve deeper into each report, which have led to a more informed and richer dialogue in the hearings.
The clearing of the backlog is especially important as it gives the Committee a chance to be proactive with regard to those countries which have not yet submitted their initial report to the Committee. However, in order for this to happen, the Committee is dependent on State Parties submitting their reports in time. We urge therefore all State Parties to fulfil their reporting obligations in time to allow the Committee to function effectively.
Norway continues urge States that has not ratified, acceded or succeeded to the Convention and the Optional Protocol to do so. Further we call upon State Parties to withdraw all reservations that are contrary to the object and the purpose of the Convention.
The UN needs a stronger voice and more resources to make a difference for women on the ground. A new and more dynamic gender equality architecture is needed. Norway is escalating its contributions to the existing gender mechanisms. This year we increased the funding to UNIFEMs core budget by 150 % and intend an increase next year with another 50 %. We will also continue to look for ways of supporting The Division of the Advancement of Women and The Office of the Special Advisor on Gender Equality. We will require of our cooperation partners, governments, international institutions or NGOs, to demonstrate that increased focus on advancement of women and gender equality leads to real results. We need to move from good intentions to actions.