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The Nordic Ministers for Gender Equality in the UN: Gender equality brings economic growth!

Equal rights for men and women is the key to social and economic progress in rural areas too. This is one of the most important experiences the Nordic ministers bring to the UN Commission on the Status of Women in New York, which this year is about women's role in the development of rural areas.


Formal and real equal opportunities for women and men, also in rural areas, provide social and economic progress and strengthen democracy", says Audun Lysbakken.

Johannes Jansson/

 "The Nordic countries have varying degrees of dispersed settlements, but it is common to them all that no matter where men and women live they have the same basic rights and universal welfare programmes, such as children's day care, paid parental leave, and health and other forms of care", says Audun Lysbakken, Norwegian Minister for Gender Equality and Chair of the Nordic Council of Ministers for Gender Equality in 2012.

The Norwegian minister emphasises that universal programmes provide jobs and free up women's labour for paid work outside the home. He believes that infrastructures such as this are important for women's desire and ability to stay in or move to rural areas.

"Even though the challenges are different in the Nordic Region than in other parts of the world, we know what measures work.  Formal and real equal opportunities for women and men, also in rural areas, provide social and economic progress and strengthen democracy", says Audun Lysbakken.

Lysbakken and the other Nordic ministers for gender equality will take part in a seminar with Michelle Bachelet, Executive Director of UN Women, on Wednesday 29 February. At the seminar, the ministers will present Nordic challenges and solutions on the theme of the empowerment of rural women. Bachelet will take an international view on the theme. The event will be organised in the UN Headquarters from 13.15 to 14.45.

The Nordic countries are recognised, according to Audun Lysbakken, amongst other things, for a sustainable welfare society and equality between women and men.

"We have the political will to develop welfare, equality and freedom for the individual, with open and high-tech economies. Major social reforms are implemented on the basis of dialogue and consultations between the parties in the labour market and the state. In our societies women take part on an equal footing with men. This adds value and means that all talents and skills are put to use", says the Norwegian Minister for Gender Equality.

In addition to the Nordic ministerial seminar, the ministers for gender equality will also take part in the UN CSW plenary session which will begin on Monday 27 February.

On Friday 2 March there will be a Nordic expert seminar organised by the Nordic Council of Ministers on the role of women in remote areas. It starts at 13.15 and lasts till 14.45 and will take place in the Millennium UN Plaza Hotel (Landmark room).

The annual session in the UN Headquarters in New York brings together decision-makers, government officials, NGOs and representatives of other organisations from around the world. The aim is to evaluate progress and challenges in gender quality policy and formulate concrete policy and global standards to promote gender equality and the advancement of women at a global level.

This year is the 56th CSW session. The UN CSW is a commission of the United Nations Economic and Social Council, dedicated to gender equality and advancement of women.

Participation in CSW is part of the Nordic countries' international commitment to place Nordic core values, such as gender equality and human rights, on the international agenda.

Follow the Nordic Council of Ministers at CSW on Twitter nordenen (#CSW56).