Debate

Nordic gender equality in exports

The fact that women are not allowed to control their own bodies is not only an abuse but also a major obstacle to fighting poverty in the world. Sex education in schools, access to contraception and safe abortions are a matter of course for us in the Nordic countries, but inaccessible to many fellow sisters in the south. Through our own experience, we know that gender equality provides growth and prosperity and now we can share both these experiences and this prosperity through the Swedish gender equality assistance. It writes Charlotte Petri Gornitzka, CEO of Sida

Today, dozens of activists, politicians and other actors from around the world discuss gender equality at the large meeting of the Nordic Forum in Malmö. 70 percent of the people living in poverty in the world are women and working for gender equality is one of Sweden's and Sida's most important areas in the fight against poverty. Today we can present a new development assistance barometer that shows that we who live in Sweden together via the tax slip for a year have contributed to:

  • 8,3 million girls have had access to education
  • 12 million girls and boys have received sex education in schools
  • 1 million men have received training and the opportunity to get involved in increased gender equality
  • 230 people in the health and justice sector have received training on gender-related violence
  • 22 countries have developed and adopted 99 new laws on gender equality

It is easy to forget that many of the things we take for granted today are the result of decades of women's struggle and solid gender equality work. That today we have rights that many women in the world unfortunately do not come close to gaining access to.

Last year, around 114 children were born in Sweden and 000 percent of them were delivered in hospital. In the last thirty years, there has been a halving of maternal mortality in the world, from around 99 to around 600 per year, but in the poorest countries in the world, mortality due to pregnancy and childbirth is still appallingly high. Being redeemed by a midwife is one of the best life insurance policies for women globally.

In Sweden, all young people have access to sex education in school and free contraception through youth clinics. Around 35 safe abortions can be performed annually in healthcare in our country. More than a quarter of the world's population lives in countries where abortion is prohibited and women are therefore not entitled to make this decision about their own bodies. Every year, around 000 million unsafe abortions are performed where many women risk their health and lives. In many of Swedish development assistance's partner countries, this is thus not a question of resources or capacity. That is a political issue.

Today, not only is the Nordic women's movement in place in Malmö, a total of 15 fellow sisters and brothers from all over the world meet. Our Nordic experiences today are exported around the world through our assistance. One example is Bangladesh, one of the world's poorest and most densely populated countries, where it has now succeeded in reducing the previously very high maternal mortality rate. Last year, 000 students were able to start a new midwifery education of the Swedish model. During their working lives, these 500 midwives will help reduce maternal mortality in Bangladesh by 500 percent and save the lives of 80 women.

We know from experience in the Nordic countries that gender equality provides growth and prosperity - and a fairer distribution of these. We know that education, support for women's organizations and men's commitment are success factors for a more equal society. We continue to pursue the issue of gender equality and issues of women's right to their own bodies - even in headwinds. We have the privilege of sharing both resources and experiences, while at the same time bringing with us knowledge from and being inspired by the women and men around the world who, piece by piece, are carrying out new conquests in the spirit of gender equality.

Charlotte Petri Gornitzka,

Director General of Sida

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