Interview with Rasmus Helveg Petersen, Denmark’s Minister for Development Cooperation


Photo credit: Ulrik Jantzen
Photo credit: Ulrik Jantzen

The Government of Denmark has announced additional end-of-year core funding of DKK 20 million (USD 3.7 million) for UN Women. This adds to its prior contribution in 2013 of USD 6.9 million – bringing Denmark’s overall 2013 contribution to approximately USD 10.6 million. 

In an interview, former Danish Minister for Development Cooperation Rasmus Helveg Petersen says his country wants to strengthen UN Women’s role as the most important international agency for data collection and analyses on women’s empowerment and gender equality.

1) Why is gender equality important to your Government?

It is a central objective of the Danish strategy for Development Cooperation that Denmark will work to promote all human rights – economic, social, cultural, civil and political – with a special focus on women’s rights and equal access to decision-making, resources and opportunities. Everybody, regardless of gender, should be given equal opportunities in all spheres of life. Furthermore, I believe that gender equality is an integral part of a modern and diverse society as well as a precondition for sustainable economic growth. In Denmark, women and men are ensured formal equality, however, in some areas, women and men still face gender barriers, and we will continue to work on these challenges.

2) Why is it important to work for promotion of gender equality through multilateral agencies?

Multilateral agencies have a number of advantages as compared to bilateral development cooperation agencies when it comes to promotion of women’s empowerment and gender equality. This is especially the case for UN Women. UN Women has a critical mass of experts on gender equality, in-depth knowledge of gender equality challenges in UN Member States and the means and knowledge to collect, analyse and disseminate evidence-based data. This is needed for conducting factual and impartial dialogues with governments. We want to strengthen the role of UN Women as the most important international agency for data collection and analyses regarding women’s empowerment and gender equality. UN Women’s field experience also contributes to strengthen the organization’s credibility. This is needed if we want ambitious global norms in the framework of the Commission on the Status of Women and in other international fora. That is why Denmark supports UN Women.      

3) Why is UN Women the best fit for channelling your development assistance?

Denmark strongly supported the establishment of UN Women. The world needed and still needs a robust UN entity for the promotion of gender equality and women’s human rights. UN Women has contributed to tangible progress for women and girls. But there is still a long way to go before women and girls around the world have equal access to education, equal access to resources and equal access to political participation and leadership. There is a long way to go before women and girls have the right to decide freely over their own body and sexuality. And there is a long way to go before women and girls are no longer exposed to gender-based violence. UN Women has managed to establish itself as the leading voice when it comes to gender equality in a global context. But UN Women needs to be further consolidated and strengthened so that it can fulfil the important task ahead. We strongly support UN Women – both politically and financially.