Women and Girls on the Move. A Call to Protect

State Secretary Audun Halvorsen's statement at a UN General Assembly side event organized by the UNFPA, the Danish Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Danish Refugee Council.

Your Royal Highness, Execellencies, colleagues

Almost half of all migrants and internally displaced in the world are women and girls. While men and women face many of the same challenges, some are gender-specific.

Studies indicate that migrant women are more likely to die en route. Many migrant women are victims of sex trafficking. Many suffer discrimination, exploitation and sexual violence on the way. Few have access to reproductive health services. Menstrual hygiene management can be a problem.

These women need protection and assistance, not only when they arrive in their country of destination but along the entire migratory route.

What can we do to address these challenges?

Firstly, we need a gender-sensitive understanding of the needs of women on the move. Lack of protection systems expose women to abuse. We need to strengthen protection and provide better access to health service, especially sexual and reproductive health care. These are priority areas in Norway’s new humanitarian strategy, which was launched last month.

Secondly, we must combat human smuggling and trafficking and the exploitation of women on the move. The new humanitarian strategy gives priority to efforts to protect people from human trafficking and organized prostitution in humanitarian crisis.

Thirdly, we must ensure that the human rights of women and girls are respected. This is an important part of the struggle to promote gender equality and the empowerment of all women and girls. Women on move can rise from victimhood if we give them the opportunity.

This year, we have reached agreement on a Global Platform for Refugees, and a Global Platform for Migration. Both platforms call for common understanding, shared responsibilities and unity of purpose regarding migrants and refugees, making it work for all. Perhaps the most important measure of success is whether we can improve the situation for vulnerable people no the move with special focus on women and girls.

Norway assists vulnerable refugees and migrants through the EU Emergency Trust Fund for Africa, through IOM and UNHCR, and other channels and mechanisms.

Norway recognises UNFPA’s leadership in providing sexual and reproductive health and rights and in the fight against gender based violence. We will remain a strong supporter of UNFPA’s work.

Thank you.