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HRC44: Nordic-Baltic countries address women and girls’ rights during the COVID-19 crisis

44th session of the Human Rights Council

Annual full-day discussion on the human rights of women
Panel 2: COVID-19 and women’s rights

Ms/Mr Chairperson
I have the pleasure to deliver this statement on behalf of the Nordic and Baltic countries Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Iceland, Latvia, Lithuania, Sweden, and my own country Norway.
COVID-19 exacerbates existing gender inequalities. Women and girls bear the brunt of unpaid care work, and women constitute the majority of those working in the health care sector and in the informal sector, with less access to social protection. More girls than boys drop out of school, there’s an increase in child, early and forced marriage. The ongoing pandemic and crisis response shows the necessity and urgency of protection and promoting all  women’s and girl’s rights.
Gender equality must be a central element when we build back better. The response must address the structural discrimination women and girls face. We must eliminate sexual and gender-based violence and harmful practices. We must secure universal access to sexual and reproductive health and rights. We must promote transformative change in order to lay the foundation for a “better normal”. This can only happen if women and girls can participate fully at all levels of decision making.
The pandemic postponed the celebration of the 25th anniversary of the Beijing platform for action. Today’s panel underscores that we can never postpone the fight for gender equality.
Our countries are committed to continue our efforts to promote women’s rights. We would like to ask the panel what they consider as the most effective way of mobilizing new actors for this cause and how can states most effectively incorporate gender perspectives in our immediate and long-term response to the pandemic.

 



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