Nordic gender equality ministers acted jointly at the UN Commission on the Status of Women session

On 12–24 March, the 62nd session of the Commission on the Status of Women took place at the United Nations Headquarters in New York. This year’s theme was ‘Challenges and opportunities in achieving gender equality and the empowerment of rural women and girls’. The Swedish Government was represented by Pernilla Baralt, former Sweden’s State Secretary for Gender Equality and Deputy Chair of the Nordic Council of Ministers for Gender Equality. With three Nordic gender equality ministers, Ms Baralt co-hosted a Nordic ministerial panel on the bodily integrity of women and women’s sexual and reproductive rights. Sweden and France also hosted a side event on women’s representation in politics.

  • Swedens ambassador to the UN, Olof Skoog, former state secretary Pernilla Baralt and Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, Executive Director of UN Women.

    Swedens ambassador to the UN, Olof Skoog, former State Secretary Pernilla Baralt and Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, Executive Director of UN Women.

    Photo: Pontus Höök/Nordic Council of Ministers

  • Pernilla Baralt, former Swedish State Secretary and Marlene Schiappa, State Secretary in France, in a panel about ways and obstacals to reaching the goal of increasing women’s representation in political assemblies.

    Pernilla Baralt, former Swedish State Secretary and Marlene Schiappa, State Secretary in France, in a panel about ways and obstacals to reaching the goal of increasing women’s representation in political assemblies.

    Photo: Governemt Offices of Sweden

The Swedish delegation included civil society representatives and two members of the Riksdag.

"There has been a great deal of interest in the progress that Sweden and Norway have made in gender equality, and also that gender equality is not only a rights issues – it boosts economic growth. In particular, I've received a lot of questions about the long-term work we do in the area of governance, as opposed to short-term projects. The fact that Sweden has a Gender Equality Agency and that it implements gender-responsive budgeting attracts a lot of interest internationally," says former State Secretary Pernilla Baralt, who also addressed the United Nations General Assembly.

Pernilla Baralt, the Nordic gender equality ministers – Karen Ellemann, Denmark, Linda Hofstad Helleland, Norway, Ásmundur Einar Dadason, Iceland – and Finland's Ambassador to the UN Kai Sauer hosted the joint panel discussion 'Right, roles and realities – Nordic strategies for gender equality'. It centred on the Nordic countries' strategies for gender equality, especially in rural areas, and on sexual and reproductive rights. Ms Lena Ag, Director-General of Sweden's new Gender Equality Agency, was the moderator. The event was part of Sweden's programme for the 2018 Nordic Council of Ministers.

"Gender equality policy concerns everyone, regardless of who you are and where you live. We talked about the enormous potential there is today to move forward on gender equality, with the Me Too movement and the Global Goal on gender equality in the 2030 Agenda. What we need is for everyone at every level to take responsibility and to involve boys and men in the work," says Ms Baralt.

Sweden and France, with Minister of State for Gender Equality Marlène Schiappa, organised a well-attended seminar on women's representation in politics.

"Many women in politics do not complete an electoral period, so we talked about how to get more women to become involved in – and remain in – politics. It's about making sure the political climate is favourable, that it's possible to combine politics and family life, but also about men's responsibility in the home," says Ms Baralt.