A ‘women’s billion’ in support for women’s rights and gender equality

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The Norwegian Government is proposing to allocate at least NOK 1 billion in support for women’s rights and gender equality as part of the 2019 aid budget. This is an increase of more than NOK 68 million. In addition to this ‘women’s billion’, Norway is funding measures to improve women’s and maternal health as part of its global health efforts, and promoting women’s rights in other areas of development policy.

‘Women’s sexual and reproductive health and rights are under pressure. This is a battle we cannot afford to lose. The Government is therefore scaling up its efforts to promote women’s rights and gender equality,’ said Minister of International Development Nikolai Astrup.

The ‘women’s billion’ is made up of core contributions of NOK 100 million to UN Women and NOK 530 million to the UN Population Fund (UNFPA), and NOK 372 million for various gender equality measures.

‘Strengthening gender equality and women’s rights is a goal in itself, but success in these areas will also have major implications for our efforts to reach other sustainable development goals. The fundamental aim of Norway’s gender equality efforts is to increase the opportunities available to women and girls, promote their right to self-determination, and further their empowerment. Key focus areas for Norway’s work are sexual and reproductive health and rights, including access to family planning; maternal health; and access to safe and legal abortions,’ said Mr Astrup.

All Norway’s gender equality work is based on the priorities set out in the 2016-2020 action plan for women’s rights and gender equality in foreign and development policy, Freedom, empowerment and opportunities. Norway’s new national action plan on women, peace and security for 2019-2022 will also be used as a basis for these efforts once it is published.

In Norway, as in the rest of Europe, the increase in women’s labour market participation has had a marked positive effect on economic growth. OECD figures show that in OECD countries alone, gender equality in the workplace could result in a 12 % rise in gross domestic product (GDP) by 2030.

Violence against women and girls is a serious problem in today’s world. This includes everything from domestic violence to sexual violence in conflict.

‘A great deal remains to be done before all women and girls have full control over their own bodies and the freedom to plan their own lives,’ said Mr Astrup.

Harmful practices such as child marriages, forced marriages and genital mutilation are widespread in many regions. Every year, almost 40 000 girls under the age of 18 are married off, and an estimated three million girls in Africa are at risk of genital mutilation every year.

‘In 2019, we will give priority to reducing the number of girls who are subjected to child and forced marriages and genital mutilation. As part of this work, we will publish a strategy for our efforts to combat harmful customs and practices in the course of the year,’ said Mr Astrup.

(Press release MFA)

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