Women and men – a joint venture into an equal future

Published under: Solberg's Government

Publisher Ministry of Foreign Affairs

UN Commission on the Status of Women, New York, 11 March 2015

State Secretary Hans Brattskar's remarks at the Nordic Council of Minister event during the UN CSW in New York on 11 March 2015.

Dear colleagues and friends,  

  • I am pleased to be here with all of you.  
  • 2015 is an important year for gender equality. It is 20 years since the Fourth World Conference on women was held in Beijng, and the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action adopted. The UN Security Council passed the ground breaking resolution 1325, 15 years ago. 2015 is also the target year for the Millennium Development Goals.  
  • Although there has been global progress towards equality between men and women, the achievement is uneven. We have a long way to go before the Beijing Platform for Action is fully implemented. 
  • I want to underline that men of course have just as much responsibility as women in promoting gender equality. Men are important actors of change in addressing inequalities and discrimination faced by women and girls. We are still more likely to hold political power, and thus in a position to bring about change in several spheres of society.
  • Gender inequality is a structural challenge, and there is a need to influence the existing power structure.  Women must participate, in a meaningful way, in political processes.
  • Both women and men experience that their opportunities and scope of action are confined by traditional gender roles. Men and boys can face discriminatory barriers and practices. We will also gain from more equality between the genders. Gender equality is not only the right thing to do. It is the smart thing to do – for us all!  
  • Men and boys have the capacity to bring about change in attitudes and relationships that are critical for the promotion of gender equality.
  • The CSW has been important for advancing the agenda on gender equality, including the role of men. The agreed conclusion from CSW 48 session in 2004, recognised the role of men and boys in achieving gender equality. Demonstrating an international acknowledgement of the need for men to be actively involved in developing and implementing legislation and policies that foster gender equality. Similarly, providing positive role models for other men to promote gender equality is equally important.
  • However there is still a long way to go before we have gender equality. What does it mean in practical terms to include men and boys our efforts to achieve gender equality?
  • I want to mention three specific areas.
  • 1. In Norway’s new national action plan on women, peace and security, launched last month, the government recognise men as important actors in promoting women’s rights and participation in peace and security processes. Men have an equal responsibility to implement the women, peace and security resolutions. We hold most of the decision making positions in the security and military establishments and are therefore in positions to help implement real change and include women at every level of decision making.   
  • 2. Another priority for my government is education. We want to be a global leader in mobilizing support for education through our international developing cooperation. Education is essential in order to attain gender equality. Education is key to empowering girls and women, and enabling them to be actors and participate actively in society.
  • Education is much more than to learn to read and write - Learninglife-skills is key. Learning how to be responsible global citizens is of the utmost importance. Comprehensive sexuality education is part of this.  We believe that a comprehensive sexuality education is indispensable to ensure that young people are able to make important decisions in their lives, boys, as well as girls. We believe that sexuality education is imperative for boys as well to learn how to protect themselves, including against sexually transmitted infections and learn how to avoid unwanted pregnancies, girls should be treated with great respect and that violence is forbidden and very unmanly. This is what young people want and what we should want for them.
  • Furthermore education may be the best way to eliminate child, early and forced marriage. Men need to understand that is it not OK to marry away ones daughter or to marry a girl to young for marriage. 
  • 3. The third area that I want to shed light on is hate speech. Hate speech against women is a democratic problem. Hate speech targeted at women is a gender equality problem. This type of harassment cannot be trivialised. 
  • Last year the Government launched the campaign «Stop hate speech on the internet». We wanted to bring this issue into our national debate.
  • The efforts to involve men and boys in the gender equality agenda are important.   UN Women’s campaign ”HeForShe” is a good example of an awareness campaign. It has been encouraging so far, with, now, more than 240,000 have joined “HeForShe”. I was present at the launch of this campaign last September and I am proud member of “HeForShe”.