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Ending Harmful practices against women and young girls.

Side-event UNFPA and Norway, CSW, New York 12.03.2015

Opening statement by Minister of Children, Equality and Social Inclusion, Ms. Solveig Horne

Ladies and Gentlemen

Millions of women and girls throughout the world continue to suffer from harmful practices. Practices that includes selecting away girls - even before they are born.

The preference of sons and sex selection before birth are examples of this kind of practice discriminating girls.

It is more important than ever to stand fully behind the universality of human rights. Neither religion nor cultural traditions should be used as excuses for denying girls and women their human rights.

Ending violence against women and girls includes ending harmful traditional practices.

Female genital mutilation (FGM), early and forced marriage and violence related to dowry are among the harmful practices that too many women and girls experience.

Child brides are deprived of their right to childhood. They are subject to violence and sexual abuse. Both early - and forced marriage is a hinder for  girls participation in society. It leads to tragic results of increased mortality rates – both for the babies and their young mothers.

Other girls and women are attacked with acids and they are killed in so-called ‘honour’ crimes. Widows are facing maltreatment, dietary restrictions and witch hunting.

Rough estimates point out that the worst forms of harmful practices might affect more than 500 million women all over the world, both in developed and in developing countries.

It also occurs in Norway. Evaluations of previous efforts to fight forced marriage and female genital mutilation show that there is still a need for more knowledge.

We aim to be even better prepared to fight these harmful practices in Norway – to do this we have an  Action Plan Against Forced Marriage, Female Genital Mutilation and Severe Restrictions on Young People’s Freedom (2013-2016) – and this plan contains 22 measures.

The efforts are directed towards strengthening preventive efforts in schools and voluntary work.

For instance are four Integration Counsellors working at foreign missions (in Pakistan, Jordan, Turkey and Kenya) to provide assistance in cases that arise when the victim is abroad. This measure has helped many young people home to Norway, and prevented forced marriages and female genital mutilation.

The Action Plan is also a tool to secure better coordination and cooperation in public assistance. Successful measures in earlier action plans are being continued in ordinary operations.   

For Norway, combating FGM and work against forced marriages is also a high priority within our international efforts. 

Last summer Norway launched a new 4-year strategy to increase our international effort against FGM

This includes:  

- Doubling the resources allocated to civil society and international organizations working internationally on the prevention of FGM;

- A new partnership with the government of Somalia to end the practice of FGM;

- Continue to be a strong supporter to the UNFPA/UNICEF Joint Programme;

- Contribute to the capacity building of health personnel within prevention and treatment of FGM;

- Strengthen our efforts on FGM as a part of other relevant development priorities – like gender equality, maternal- and child health, primary education and human rights.

We must fight the underlying causes of harmful practices that deprive women all over the world of their fundamental human rights: Women’s lower status, limited power and low access to social and economic resources.

The lack of effective legal protection of women and girls has  resulted in extensive abuses of human rights. This includes poor health and economic exclusion of women and girls.

We must agree on this important topic:

Neither religion nor cultural traditions should be used as excuses for denying girls and women their human rights.

Finally, I will underline the importance of education.

My government has made girls’ education a top priority in our development policy.

Education is the key to achieve gender equality, sustainable development and to end poverty.

Yet, around 60 million girls around the world do not attend school. Girls with disabilities are especially at risk.

Young people all over the world need basic sexuality education.

It is the woman and girl herself – and no one else – that should have the right to control her own body and her own sexuality.

I will thank UNFPA for addressing harmful practices as a serious hinder in achieving human rights also for women and girls.

I look very much forward to listening to the following panel discussion.

Thank you!

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