In the 2017 White Paper on development, the Norwegian government defined health, education, private sector and job-creation, climate and renewable energy together with humanitarian support, as their main priority areas within Norway’s official development aid. The White Paper further defines SRHR as a central component of the support to health. The action plan on women’s rights and gender equality in foreign and development policy, launched in 2016, and the Humanitarian Strategy, launched 2018, both include SRHR as an important focus.
This confirms the priority of SRHR both within long term development and humanitarian aid.
In 2019 the Ministry of Foreign Affairs launched the International Strategy to Eliminate Harmful Practices. This illustrates the focus of the new Minister of Development, Dag-Inge Ulstein, who came into power in February 2019 and was soon established as a minister with a focus on vulnerable populations, harmful practices and modern slavery. The strategy sets out how the Norwegian Government will target its international activities to drive the effort of eliminating harmful practices, identified as female genital mutilation (FGM), son-preference and early- and child marriages, by 2030.
Parliamentary elections were held in 2017 and resulted in the continuation of Prime Minister Erna Solberg's Conservative-Progress coalition, consisting of the Conservative Party (H) and the Progress Party (FrP). Ine Eriksen Søreide, from the Conservative party, was appointed as new Minister of Foreign Affairs in 2017, and still holds this role. She is the first woman to take on this position in Norway. The Liberal Party (V) joined the coalition in 2018 and the Christian Democratic Party (KrF) joined the coalition in 2019, resulting in a four-party government with a majority in Parliament. The coalitions joint policy platform continued the same priorities for international development aid, with an increased focus on vulnerable groups and marginalised populations.
The Progress Party withdrew from the government coalition in January 2020. This resulted in a reshuffle of the ministry posts, and Abid Raja (The Liberal Party) became the new Minister of Culture and Gender Equality. In July 2020 Mr. Raja took on the role as a SheDecides Champion.
Policies & funding
Norway has stepped up the support to SRHR following the reinstatement of the USA ‘Mexico City Policy’. This was done partly through the SheDecides initiative and the FP2020 Summit in July 2017. Norway has seen a strengthening of the SRHR policy over the past three years, including the action plan on women’s rights and gender equality, the above-mentioned White Paper on development, the White Paper on equal rights, the new Humanitarian Strategy including a priority of SRHR, the recent revised Action Plan on Women, Peace and Security in 2019, and the strategy to Eliminate Harmful Practices.
These policies and documents, which are at the basis of normative and development support, outline the importance of SRHR and Norway’s particular commitment to work for the international recognition of sexual rights and for access to sexual and reproductive health services, including family planning.
2020 is the fifth year of Norwegian funding to the Global Financing Facility (GFF) in support of the UN strategy on Women, Children and Adolescent Health. The GFF is presented as the major Norwegian commitment to global health system strengthening and SRHR, with an annual commitment of NOK 600 million (around € 60 million), which was renewed at the replenishment conference in Oslo in November 2018. Norway has further committed to an increase of USD 85 million (around € 74 million) to SRHR over four years, 2017-2020. This includes an increase in core-support to UNFPA, which stands at a record level of NOK 530 000 000 million (€ 53 million) in 2019, and increased support to international SRHR organisations. The commitment also included funding for the UNFPA Supplies Programme, which they had not funded since 2014.
At the ICPD+25 Nairobi Summit in 2019, Norway committed NOK 10,4 billion (€ 1 billion) to SRHR for the period 2020-2025. This includes 760 million NOK (€ 76 million) towards the Elimination of harmful practices for the period 2020-2023, and the 1 billion NOK (€100 million) to prevent sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV) in humanitarian crisis for the period 2019-21, already committed at the End SGBV in crisis - conference in Oslo 2019.
Norway's total expenditure to ODA in 2019 was NOK 37,8 billion (€ 3.8 billion).
Norway continues its high political and public support for SRH/FP. In 2012, Norway was one of many donors committing to the Family Planning 2020 (FP2020) initiative, with a promise of contributing NOK 150 million (approximately €15 million) annually. Norway’s strong commitment to FP was reiterated on several occasions in more recent years, including at the FP2020 Summit in London in July 2017. At the Summit, Norway also promised to take the lead on comprehensive sexuality education and co-organised a conference on the topic with UNFPA in Oslo in December 2017.
Norway has made it clear that gender equality and SRHR are key priorities in the country’s foreign and development policies, and that a gender transformative perspective must be ensured in the global COVID-19 response. Norway is co-chairing the Access to COVID-19 Tools (ACT) Accelerator together with South Africa. The ACT Accelerator is an initiative to accelerate development, equitable allocation, and scaled-up delivery of vaccines, therapeutics and diagnostics against COVID-19. The Minister of Development has been vocal about the need for equitable allocation to fight the pandemic.
In addition, Norway has stated a political and economic commitment to WHO and their role in leading global health efforts against the pandemic.
In August 2020 Norway appointed a special advisor on global health, Dr. John-Arne Røttingen. He is already coordinating the World Health Organisation’s international collaborative study on the effect of treatments for COVID-19. Mr. Røttingen will have the full global health portfolio as his responsibility, although COVID-19 is likely to be a main focus. The appointment further underlines Norway’s commitment to global health.
- Norway’s new strategy to Eliminate Harmful Practices.
- Norway’s Humanitarian Strategy: An effective and integrated approach (2018).
- White Paper on development and the sustainable development goals, Meld. St. 24 2016-2017 (2017)
- Action-plan on Women’s rights and gender equality within the foreign policy, “Freedom, Empowerment and Opportunities”, which defines SRHR as one of five main target areas (2016)
Updated January 2021
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