“Over the last 20 years the Beijing Platform for Action has been a guiding star for women and girls’ empowerment. And we have come far towards a world in which every woman and girl can exercise her freedoms, her choices, and realize all her rights. So this year is a time for celebrating progress. But it is also a time where we must move to the next level of gender equality”, says Manu Sareen, Danish Minister for Children, Gender Equality, Integration and Social Affairs, who chairs MR-JÄM in 2015.
On Wednesday, the ministers gathered at the UN CSW for a panel debate about men and gender equality.
Eygló Harðardóttir, Icelandic Minister for Social Affairs and Housing, who is also responsible for gender equality, notes that it has positive benefits for both women and men.
“Everybody benefits from a labour market that is not based on gender stereotypes. Everybody benefits from a childcare policy that lets fathers play a role in childrearing. And progress will only be made in the work to combat violence against women if men take an active stand,” the minister says.
The Nordic countries have been comparing experiences, pursuing joint priorities and working together to promote gender equality for over 40 years. Active participation by men and boys is one of the main themes of the current Nordic programme for co-operation on gender equality.
“The contribution made by boys and men is crucial. We need to work together to make progress towards gender equality,” says Åsa Regnér, Swedish Minister for Gender Equality.
According to MR-JÄM, Nordic experience shows that gender equality is not just a matter of justice or democracy, but an economic necessity and a pillar of the Nordic welfare model.
“Women and men need to work together to change attitudes and build sustainable societies for ourselves and future generations. Gender equality benefits all of us,” says the Finnish representative at the panel debate, Anne Sipiläinen, Under-Secretary of State.
The Norwegian representative, State Secretary Hans Brattskar, stresses that men have just as great a responsibility for progress as women:
“When it comes to addressing the inequalities and discrimination faced by women and girls, men are important agents of change – because often they are the ones wielding power.”