Mr. Chair, fellow delegates
As early as in 1995, The Beijing Platform for Action focused on the role of men and boys in achieving gender equality, and I quote:
“… A transformed partnership based on equality between women and men is a condition for people-centered sustainable development.” (Report of the Fourth World Conference on Women, Beijing, 4-15 September 1995, resolution 1, annex II, para. 1.)
Since we agreed upon that already in 1995, it is now important to discuss how we can push this process a bit further.
We need to focus on men and their roles and attitudes as well as on women and their rights. This will be a challenge, and will demand new forms of action.
Gender equality is about redistributing power and men must accept that our involvement in gender equality must imply loosing control over women as well as loosing privileges and positions.
But in my opinion men has a lot to gain from a more gender equal society. Men will benefit form developing a masculine role that’s includes taking more care off one’s own children and a less stereotype choice of education and work. A life that does not include violence against women and more shared responsibilities at home will in my opinion give better marriages.
The Government has taken action to encourage men to take more responsibility, and to spend more time with their children. Women living with men that are eager to take their share need at times to relinquish some of their control over the household and children’s and family welfare.
In Norway, children in day care institutions and primary schools often lack men as role models, as the teachers tend to be women. We have launched a program to increase the number of male teachers up to 20 % by the end of 2007.
Fostering Caring Masculinities (FOCUS) is an EU project to examine how working life can be adjusted to the way employees reconcile work and family life, with particular emphasis on the opportunities for men to participate in child care and in family life in general. Norway would like to encourage the UN to follow up on this study.
Men are not violent by nature, but some have a tendency to resort to violence rather than solving problems verbally. Men have to learn how to solve conflicts in a non-violent way. In Norway we have launched programs to help perpetrators of violence to change their attitudes and behavior, and master their aggression. We are following two parallel avenues; treatment of violent men and support for women’s shelters. As UNIFEM said yesterday, there are men interested in being involved in anti-violence work.
It can not be stressed enough the importance of men’s responsibility in preventing the HIV/AIDS pandemic from escalating further. We need to have a focus on male sexuality and try out new projects aimed at men were men can contribute themselves in developing a sexuality that does not include violence and that bases its existent of the clear right every woman has to control her own sexuality.
Men need to be a part of the struggle to achieve gender equality.