This has been, and continues to be, a landmark year. Financing for development, sustainable development goals, and climate negotiations mark 2015. Essential and demanding processes that require ambitious leadership, also on gender equality.
The sustainable development goals have given us new goals for gender equality and a strong mandate for gender mainstreaming. It is 20 years since we agreed on the Beijing Platform for Action. Yesterday we marked the 15th anniversary of resolution 1325 on Women, Peace and Security.
All demonstrate what we have achieved. But also, what remains to be done. If we are to reach our goals, efforts must be stepped up. We must also make sure that we are not leaving women and girls with disabilities and those belonging to ethnic minorities behind.
We are heartened by the strong commitments to achieve full equality between women and men expressed by more than 80 heads of State or government at the Beijing+20 event here at the UN a couple of weeks ago. We commend UN Women and China for having taken the initiative to this important gathering.
If girls and women do not have the same access to education, jobs and leading positions as men, we will not make use of all of society's talents and resources. We simply cannot afford not to invest in quality education for both girls and boys. In addition, ensuring girls and women’s education is key to achieve full equality between women and men. This is why Norway has made girls education a top priority, and we are doubling our support to education in our development cooperation.
Gender equality means absence of violence. Too many girls and women are victims of violence – at home, at school and at work. Norway is strongly committed to ending Female Genital Mutilation and child marriage, through financial contributions to partner countries and international organizations, including the UN.
Hate speech on the Internet and in social media causes fear and withdrawal from the public debate. Gender based hate speech can trigger violence against women. No one should be silenced or subjected to threats when expressing themselves in public. We need more female voices and human rights defenders, not fewer!
Young people all over the world, including LGBTI persons and persons with disabilities, need comprehensive sexuality education. Increased knowledge about sexuality will result in fewer unwanted pregnancies. Illegal and unsafe abortions put women's health and lives at risk. Norway commends the African Union, which has shown great leadership in establishing a women's rights instrument that includes access to medical abortion in cases of sexual assault, rape, incest and where the continued pregnancy endangers the mental and physical health.
We will not reach the goal of gender equality by 2030 if this continues to be an issue that is mostly discussed among women. We therefore call on boys and men to become champions for gender equality. Women and girls rights is a value on its own merit, but it also increases a country's productivity and prosperity. Equality between women and men is thus a good investment for all. I am proud to tell you that all the male ministers in our government have joined the UN Women campaign “He for She” - taking a stand for gender equality.
It was stated in Beijing and has been repeated frequently over the past 20 years: Women's rights are human rights. It is time to translate those words fully into action.