Gender Equality: A key for economic and social development in Europe and beyond
Reykjavik, 31 Oct and 1 Nov 2019
Ávarp utanríkisráðherra Guðlaugs Þórs Þórðarsonar
Good afternoon ladies and gentlemen, and warm welcome to the visitors from the partner countries of the EEA Grants.
This year we celebrate the 25th anniversary of the EEA Agreement. It is fitting on this occasion, to hold this important conference on gender equality with our partner countries of the EEA Grants.
As is stated in the title of the conference: Gender Equality is a key for economic and social development in Europe. Yet the fact is, that of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals, the world community has progressed what least on goal number 5 on Gender Equality.
This the European cooperation must change, and the EEA Grants can help us to do so, because its main goal is to contribute to a more equal Europe.
Iceland has from the outset of the EEA Grants focused its efforts on areas where we have capacity and expertise to offer to other European partners. Gender equality is a case in point.
Iceland enjoys the good fortune of being in the top rank of all international indexes for gender equality. For example, Iceland has for the past 10 years topped the Global Gender Gap index of the World Economic Forum.
Our experience has taught us, that more gender equality and more participation of women in all aspects of the economy, society and politics, makes a better society and more prosperous economy. Everyone benefits from gender equality, both men and women.
But how did we get here, and what lessons can we learn from the Icelandic experience?
You have already heard that we have a good legal and institutional framework. The laws in Iceland ensure gender equality, and the rights of women to equal participation. We also have good pre-school and education system and health care system that help to create equal level-playing field for women.
But we are of course not perfect, and we have still some way to go. But rest assured, we will continue to strive for more gender equality. Both because we all want to enjoy the benefits of gender equality.
And finally an important key to our success: Women have been the force of change in Iceland. They have come a long way in changing our attitudes and our way of life to the better. However, important challenges remain in that regard. We, men, need to become real agents of change if we want to reach our goal of a gender equal society.
In closing I thank the organizers, the FMO and our partners in Portugal and Norway for making this event possible.
With these words I wish you all a pleasant evening and a productive conference.