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Women in violent Extremism. More than mere victims

Side event New America Foundation, The Permanent Mission of Norway to the UN and the Royal Norwegian Consulate General, CSW, New York 12.03.2015

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

Thank you. We are grateful to you and your staff at New America for this opportunity to work together to shed light on a very important topic.  

Millions of people around the world are suffering from war and conflict, which lead to devastating consequences for women and girls. Homes are ruined.  Women and children are forced to flee. They are taken hostage, raped and killed. 

Women and girls all over the world, not only in conflict-affected countries, suffer from widespread and serious human rights violations.

In Syria and Iraq teenage girls are captured by ISIL soldiers who sell them as slaves. 270 teenage girls in Nigeria were kidnapped April last year, and are still not released from Boko Haram. In Pakistan, the Taliban shot and nearly killed Malala simply for wanting an education.

Serious violations against women and girls is a common thread among the violent extremists. Their fear of gender equality  ties them together.

My own country is no stranger to violent extremism. The acts of terrorism on 22nd July 2011 in Norway were the most violent acts my country has experienced since the Second World War. It shocked our society to its very core.

The tragic event reminds us that extremism is not only linked to Islam. Norway’s homegrown terrorist called himself a Christian. His hatred against women’s rights and equality bears a striking resemblance to that of extremists from other parts of the world.

Ladies and gentlemen,    

Security Council Resolution 1325 Women, Peace and Security
has made it clear that women's participation, rights and needs are important factors for international peace and security.

Societies with a high degree of gender equality tend to be more peaceful and have fewer conflicts. 

Last year, The Security Council adopted a resolution calling for the promotion of women’s empowerment to halt the spread of violent extremism.

In other words, the links between women’s empowerment, gender equality and measures to counter radicalization, are recognized.

If we want to effectively fight violent extremism, we should listen to the women on the ground and support their work. Women are not only victims of extremists. They are a force to be reckoned with, both in good and sometimes bad ways.

Some women join violent movements. Others can be buffers against the spread of violent extremism in their communities and their countries.

Norway has a long tradition of supporting women leaders and their organisations on the ground in fragile and conflict-affected countries.

We see there is a need for targeted, strategic efforts in countering these complex challenges. Internationally, the Norwegian Government’s aim is a much stronger  implementation of Security Council Resolution 1325.

Therefore, a few weeks ago, my government launched a revised action plan on Women, Peace and Security.

The Action Plan is our tool to help enforcing the UN Security Council resolutions. This is done through broad cooperation, including civil society. The plan focuses on specific areas, for instance women’s participation in peace processes. It will be an important part of our security and foreign policy in the years ahead of us.

Another important action plan my government has launched, is against radicalisation and violent extremism. Measures listed here are important for our international work. They are also important for how we deal with these threats at the national and local level. Preventive efforts are key in ensuring fundamental values such as democracy, human rights and security.

Let me be clear: Norway will continue to lead the way when it comes to gender equality and women's rights internationally. We strongly believe it is a condition for sustainable peace and development. 

Therefore, we have also made girls' access to education a top priority in our development policy. Girls in areas affected by conflict often lose the opportunity to go to school. Ensuring education for children, including in conflict areas, is our common responsibility. If we fail to deliver, we are bound to see more extremism and less peace.  

I am looking forward to hearing the debate this evening on the roles of women in countering violent extremism. The participants represent an impressive range of knowledge and expertise, and I am very much looking forward to hearing their different viewpoints.

This year, with the celebration of Beijing + 20, and the marking of the 15th anniversary of Security Council resolution 1325, we have a unique opportunity to renew our commitments towards gender equality.

I would like to end by echoing UN Women in setting 2030 as the end date for gender inequality. By then the world needs to be a more equal place for women.

Thank you!

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