Norwegian Prime Minister Erna Solberg talked about the connection between poverty and peacekeeping before a full audience in Low Rotunda on Thursday.
Her speech, titled "To End Poverty, We Need Peace," discussed the negative effects of violence in impoverished nations—a subject that parallels conversations happening at the United Nations summit this week.
"Conflicts and wars prevail in many regions, and it stops development," Solberg said. "Peace and stability is vital."
Referring to the impending deadline of the U.N.'s Millennium Development Goals, Solberg said that although millions of people worldwide have escaped abject poverty, millions more remain in places of violent conflict.
"How can we ensure that children can receive an education when they are not safe on their way to school?" Solberg asked. "How can we promote private investment when … gangs control infrastructure?"
Solberg called on the international community to help resolve cases of violent conflict. She said that when there is an international conflict, countries have a large range of political, economic, military, and social options at their disposal to help diffuse situations.
"We live in a globalized society," Solberg said. "We are so interlinked that if we do not work on these issues, it'll hurt us back home."
Solberg noted that more than 56,000 Norwegians have served in U.N. peacekeeping operations since 1945.
"Sometimes, countries seen as impartial outsiders are able to play a role in facilitating peace processes," Solberg said. "Norway participated in a number of peace and reconciliation processes."
Solberg also called for an end to gender-based violence and discrimination against women, referring to the Boko Haram kidnappings in Nigeria and forced marriages Iraq.
"The only sustainable long-term solution is full and effective participation of women in decision-making," she said.
During the Q&A portion of the event, Solberg fielded a question from a student about her experience as a female politician.
"As a politician, it is sometimes very good to be a woman," Solberg said, adding that her constituents find her more approachable.
Solberg added a word of advice to young women that it's important to "always remember to take credit for what you are doing because the boys will always do that."
Despite the serious subject matter of her speech, Solberg found moments to lighten the mood. She noted that in the 2013 World Happiness Report, co-authored by Columbia Earth Institute Director Jeffrey Sachs, Norway ranked as the world's second-happiest country.
"Our southern neighbor Denmark is number one on that list, which of course irritates us extremely," Solberg said.