Søreide sends a strong signal at UN ‘Women’s Conference’

UNNew York, USA.Minister of Children and Equality Linda Hofstad Helleland ,and Foreign Minister Ine Eriksen Søreide.Photo: Bibiana D. Piene / NTB scanpix

With the ‘#MeToo’ campaign as a backdrop, Norway, for the first time set the pace at the UN Women’s Conference (CSW) in New York, where two ministers from Norway are in attendance.


‘’#Metoo has created a time gap,” said Foreign Minister, Ine Eriksen Søreide of Høyre (H).

“We can’t go back to the way it was’’, she told NTB news.

Together with Children and Equality Minister, Linda Hofstad Helleland, she arrived in New York on Wednesday evening to attend the 62nd Women’s Conference, under the auspices of UN Women.

‘’This is the first time a Norwegian foreign minister attended the conference. It sends a strong signal’’, said Søreide.

“This is a very important part of Norwegian foreign policy. Having a women’s perspective is essential to reach the UN’s sustainability goals,” said Søreide.
From protest to action

The ‘#MeToo’ campaign is already considered to be one of the most important factors around the gender equality issue in recent times.

But how to move on, and lift the campaign to a higher level was the theme of the “Women in the Media: From Outcry to Action” event that Norway organised at the United Nations on Friday, with UN Women and The Guardian newspaper.

Sexual harassment can happen to anyone. Men are not exposed to the same merciless examination that happens to women, the British actor and activist, Sienna Miller, noted in her opening speech.

‘’#MeToo has become a turning point. The campaign has given us an opportunity to see what attacks happen against women in real life. But for the first time, powerful men have been held responsible,” said UN Women’s Director, Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka.

Requires action

In future, Helleland will try to gather parliamentary action on several measures in the wake of ‘#MeToo’. Among the proposals that are now being investigated is a low-threshold offer of a separate court for victims of harassment.
Media agencies such as the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), the Non-Frontier (RSF), and the International Association for Women in Radio and Television (IAWRT) want media companies and legislators to introduce measures and sanctions to prevent harassment of journalists.

‘’Threats and harassment affect, especially, female journalists. Last year, the number of female journalists who were killed tripled,” said Courtney Radsch of CPJ.

Biggest risk

This year’s Women’s Conference is the UN’s largest ever, with over 8,000 participants from well over 1,000 civil and government organisations,and more than 700 different events. The main theme of the conference is how to ensure equality for women and girls in rural areas. These have the greatest risks.

“Religion or cultural traditions must never prevent girls from living free lives, or be used as an excuse for depriving women’s fundamental rights,”emphasised Helleland on Thursday morning.

Also in Norway, there are still challenges in industries such as agriculture,and fisheries.

‘’Where the money is, there are fewer women’’, said Helleland.


© NTB Scanpix / #Norway Today