Speech/statement | Date: 2016-10-06 | Ministry of Culture
Minister of Culture Linda Hofstad Helleland's speech at the Global conference on faith and sport, at the Vatican in Rome.
Your Holiness, excellences, ladies and gentlemen, dear friends.
I feel privileged to be here in the Vatican today.
It is an honor and it's a dream come true.
Here we are - at the heart of catholic faith and western history. I cannot imagine a more suitable place to talk about building a better world.
I would like to thank Pope Francis and the Vatican for hosting this conference.
I am grateful for the opportunity to talk about some of the issues that are most important to me.
We must recognize and use the power of faith and the power of sports in dealing with our biggest common challenge: to build a more sustainable world for all of us.
Firstly, we need to improve global health.
Secondly, we must make sure that more children get quality education, girls in particular.
Thirdly, we need to achieve more gender equality and more female leadership.
These are all part of the United Nation's sustainability goals.
The UN recognizes sports as a means to reach these goals.
Still, the role of sports in solving our common challenges is underestimated.
I know sports can help build a better world. I have seen it myself – over and over again.
1. Health, poverty and education
Playing sports can improve both our physical and mental health.
It can combat lifestyle diseases and raise our self esteem and sense of achievement. We also make new friends through sports.
In other words: Sports have a great impact on global health.
Good habits start early.
Therefore, every child should have the opportunity to play sports, regardless of who and where they are.
Poverty is another issue with great impact on health, and it often follows your gender. This is because fewer women get an education.
Therefore, we need to make young people, and girls in particular, see their own capabilities. Like the children in the Karanba project in the favela's of Rio.
When I attended the Olympics this summer, I got to see this project myself.
The Karanba Organization uses football and education to help young people out of poverty and into a better life.
Until now, they have given over a thousand children new possibilities. And both their health and their competence improves in the process.
2. Gender equality
More women than men are poor. Fewer women than men get an education. Fewer women than men are economically independent.
We know that when girls participate in sports, they are more likely to attend school and take part in society.
Therefore, we must give more girls and women the opportunity to participate.
Earlier this fall, I went to Jordan. Amongst many humbling experiences was the visit to a football coaching course for young women.
This project is part of a program initiated by the Norwegian Football Association. It has also been implemented in Palestine, Lebanon, Iran, Iraq, Egypt and Vietnam. It has created opportunities for more than 1600 women to coach girl's teams.
As future coaches, these women will not only learn teamwork and leadership. They will also be role models for other women and make a difference in their lives.
When we help one girl, we automatically help many others in the process.
If we want to empower all girls and women, we must give them the chance to take part. And we must give them the chance to lead, also in sports.
If we want more female leaders in the world, we must give our daughters the chance to discover their abilities and learn at a young age.
That makes them more likely to be our future FIFA representatives, our religious leaders or our next prime ministers.
I am proud to be part of a government led by a Sustainable Development Goals Advocate.
The Norwegian prime minister, Erna Solberg, has put education at the forefront of our development policy.
And because of this, we have increased aid for quality education, and for girls’ education in particular.
3. Equality. Female leadership.
As with many other fields of global society, international sports organizations are mostly lead by men. We must make sure that global sports organizations represent the entire society.
I think the rising young generation has other and more sustainable views on this than their predecessors. I saw that in the Youth Olympics in Lillehammer this winter.
I saw young people take responsibility. I heard them talk about the importance of equality and fair play. And I watched them study to be our future leaders.
I've seen with my own eyes how sports can change the world.
Sports improves people's health. It makes us more likely to get an education and participate in society. And sports build our future leaders.
We know it will bring good results. We've seen the changes.
As leaders, we must work together to facilitate more projects like these. Religious leaders must also encourage this development.
We must cooperate, both nationally and internationally. And we must combine policy with involvement from civil society.
Because it's easy. It's affordable. And it works.
Like faith, sports bring meaning into people's lives.
It plays an important role in building a better world.
Thank you so much for hosting this conference.
It takes us a very important step on the way.
And thank you all for listening.