Norway Holds ‘Rights and Resistance’ Conference Featuring Head of UNAIDS
Thursday, February 8, 2024
Norway’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs directorate for development cooperation, Norad, held the pro-abortion Norad Conference 2024 ‘Rights and Resistance’ conference focused on the question: How can we push back on rising anti-democratic forces and human rights violations?” Norad’s claims included that “women’s rights are being reversed” amidst a “decline of democracy and growing polarization”.


Prominently displayed at the top of the conference’s website is the photo of a woman from Colombia holding a green abortion scarf, the symbol of the pro-abortion movement in Latin America which seeks the legalization of abortion. Norad explains that green scarves represent “a pro choice movement that works for women's reproductive rights and access to safe abortion…” Norad claims abortion is a human right adding, “The fight for democracy and basic human rights is the theme of the Norad conference 2024.”


The conference viewed pro-life gains as a “pushback” against women as the Secretary General of Plan International tweeted, “There is a serious pushback on gender equality on the global stage. Norway’s development aid is rights based, and one of the main focus is women and girls’ right to decide over their own lives and bodies.”


A featured presenter was Winnie Byanyima current Executive Director of UNAIDS and an Under-Secretary-General of the United Nations. She addressed the theme Fighting the Backlash of Women’s Rights. Byanyima said“Have no doubt, there is a well-funded, well-coordinated, ruthless international push to attack the human rights of women and girls, of LGBTQ people, and of other marginalised minorities.”


She pressed for funding for pro-abortion and other organizations saying, “So we need a sustained investment in independent, autonomous feminist movements, in the Global South especially. We must bring the movements together. Sexual and reproductive rights are the frontline.”


In her concluding comments, UN AIDS Executive Director summarized what she believes is needed:


“First, we need to deepen our understanding of this pushback on human rights and democracy. Secondly, we need to bring our efforts together. We need to connect the dots. We need to link the struggles. We need to think long-term and be bold. Third, we need to back—and by backing I mean resourcing—the people most impacted by this attack on rights…To do so we need to go to the roots and challenge inequality which is rooted in the patriarchy and an extreme form of capitalism that is exploitative, extractive, violent & oppressive to people and the planet.”


UNAIDS reported on the conference calling pro-life gains a threat to everyone’s freedom and health:


UNAIDS is highlighting that the recent, well-coordinated and well-funded global pushback against women’s rights, against the human rights of LGBTQ people, against sexual and reproductive health and rights, against democracy and against civic space is not only a threat to everyone’s freedom, it is a threat to everyone’s health. In response to this threat, the AIDS movement and its allies are pushing back against the pushback, reminding world leaders of their commitments to uphold all human rights for all people.


“UNAIDS is supporting frontline human rights defenders in both crisis response and in the longer-term work and is helping to expand support for human rights by demonstrating that laws, policies and practices which uphold human rights help countries to ensure public health and to get on track to end AIDS.”


Byanyima messaged on X: “We must put human rights at the center of our development efforts. The AIDS movement has been centering human rights and women’s rights in health. We have demonstrated how patriarchal, racist, and homophobic laws, policies, practices & beliefs undermine health and hurt everyone.”


“Our progress on women’s rights and on human rights is in peril. But we are not here to mourn, we are here to organize. To defeat the backlash on rights, let women and girls lead!”


In Latin America, the women and girls Byanyima and Norway want to lead will be waving green scarves as they protest pro-life laws.