Katrín Jakobsdóttir, prime minister of Iceland, addressed a UNESCO high-level round table on the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against women on the 25th of November.
The round table discussion focused on decision makers, government representatives, community leaders and civil society. The discussion centered on the importance of transforming mentalities and engaging men and boys to address the root causes of violence against women. Audrey Azoulay, Director General of UNESCO, also participated in the
Prime minister Jakobsdottir highlighted the importance of legislative measures and policies in Iceland’s progress towards gender equality. She talked about Iceland´s first comprehensive policy towards preventing sexual and gender-based violence and harassment with an action plan for the next four years. The plan´s objective is to increase education on how to prevent and react to gender-based violence, and to raise general awareness and deepen people´s understanding of the causes and effects of this type of violence. Prime minister Jakobsdottir, also talked about the Icelandic parental leave legislation implemented in 2000, granting both parents equal a non-transferrable right to paid parental leave, was a major milestone in transferring gender roles and including men to be a part of the solution. Further, the Barbershop concept was developed in Iceland as a way of getting men involved as partners in promoting gender equality.
The prime minister also pointed out how the global backlash on gender equality has become even stronger as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. She emphasized that when plans are made to recover from COVID-19 gender responsive measures must be included in all recovery efforts.
Katrín Jakobsdóttir, Prime Minister:
“We are far from eliminating violence against women and girls. This has been illustrated both by the #MeToo movement and the alarming escalation in gender-based violence against women we´ve seen as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Violence against women is both the cause and the consequence of broader societal inequalities between men and women, and we must do all we can to end it. In Iceland we have focused on the rights of survivors and have taken legislative steps to increase these rights. We´ve aimed to improve survivor´s trust and access to the judicial system, for instance by improving the quality and speed of investigations. We have also worked actively to include men in the conversation about gender inequalities and have invited them to be part of the solution.”
In 1999 the United Nations General Assembly passed a resolution designating the 25th of November as the International Day for the elimination of violence against women. As in previous years this year’s International Day will launch 16 days of activism against gender-based violence, ending on the 10th of December 2020, the International Human Rights Day.