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Gender equality is "essential" to global coronavirus recovery, Norway's prime minister says

Norway PM delivers keynote at Reykjavík Global Forum
Norway PM delivers keynote at Reykjavík Global Forum 07:01

Norwegian Prime Minister Erna Solberg said Tuesday that while the coronavirus pandemic has been devastating across the globe, women and girls have been hit "especially hard" in all countries, including her own.

"There is an alarming increase in women's poverty, schools have been closed, and there is a risk that millions of girls would not complete their education," Solberg said in her keynote address to the 2020 Reykjavík Global Forum – Women Leaders on Tuesday. "Early and unintended pregnancy is on the rise, the same is true for harmful practices… acts of violence against women and girls have increased across the world."

In Norway, Solberg said, the pandemic has forced inequities in unpaid care work at home. She said women spend more time than their male counterparts on household chores and child care, "no matter how much they work outside the home."

As countries struggle to bounce back, Solberg said promoting gender equality is "essential for a sustainable recovery."

"It is a key factor in promoting economic growth and it's a goal in its own right," she said. "Our experience is that it pays to invest in women's and girls' education and participation in the workforce."

In her role as co-chair of the United Nations secretary-general's group of Sustainable Development Goals advocates, Solberg pledged to "give priority to the situation of women and girls."

"When we take our seats in the security council in January, the women peace and security agenda will be one of our main priorities, we must ensure that women take part in decision-making processes," she said.

Solberg also called on governments to "counter disinformation and propaganda," and criticized "the leaders of some countries" for "taking advantage of the pandemic."

"It's being used as a pretext to violate human rights, and shrinking the democratic space," Solberg said.

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