Below is Mr. Lysbakken's speech at the opening of the CSW:
"Chairperson, fellow delegates
To be born a girl - and to be a woman – in many parts of the world means having less opportunity than those who like me was born a boy, and lives as a man.
Facts and figures support this view.
We need go no further than top the UN Human Development Report :
- Women are poorer
- Wages are lower, in rich and poor countries alike.
- Girls receive less education
- And girls and women are often denied the basic health services they need.
- Violence against women persist in all societies
Despite all the international treaties, resolutions and policy platforms we have solemnly adopted, girls and women in many countries are still rated as secondary citizens.
One could ask – does our work here at the UN make a difference?
Yes! UN documents and calls for action have proven to be essential.
Over the 15 years since we adopted the Beijing platform, women and girls around the world have made progress. More girls have access to education, and more women are participating in the work-force and economic decisionmaking.
But there is no room for complacency.
In many parts of the world – the most dangerous thing a woman can do is giving birth. There has been practically no progress at all in reducing maternal mortality since Beijing.
My point here today is;
if we neglect the need to empower women,
and disregard the rights of the girl child,
we pay for that neglect by weakening our countries economic performance.
So simple, and yet so complex.
The UN facts and figures state it clearly: Countries which suppress - or doesn’t include girls - are lagging behind. These countries are slowing down their development. They will continue to do so until they unleash and support the talent and potential of girls and women - and back such policy change with adequate funding.
The cost of gender inequality for national economies is not only indecent and wrongful towards the girls and women of the world – it’s simply not smart economics.
Through improvement of health, access to education, absence of violence, and changed attitudes among boys and men, will girls and women all over the world have the opportunity to gain real economic rights.
This is the broad perspective.
Here lie the challenges.
How countries design the balance of economic, political and social power between women and men gives a good picture of values and cultures.
The key of gender equality is redistribution of power, care and work.
But as long as violence against women persists, we can never reach full gender equality.
Targeted and affirmative action and legislation is needed to create change. Societal structures enabling women to participate in working life, along with having children, have to be established.
One of the most extensive paid parental leave schemes in the world - 46 weeks, with 10 weeks for the father – along with full coverage of kindergarten places - is the answer to how 80 % of Norwegian women can combine working careers with one of the highest birthrates among developed countries (1,98).
The Norwegian experience shows that:
- political will, affirmative action and adequate funding is essential to establish the structures needed.
- a close cooperation and partnership between the authorities, the labour movement, trade unions and the NGOs must be established.
- Both sexes have to be involved and engaged in worklife, familylife and decisionmaking processes.
Equality pays off,
for each individual person,
for each family,
for each country, rich or poor,
This is our experience - and the Beijing Platform of action and the Millennium Goals now calls for courageous steps from all of us.