Þorsteinn Sæmundsson, a parliamentarian for the Progressive Party, decided unilaterally to attend the 60th meeting of the women’s committee of the United Nations in March, it has been revealed.
He decided to go when Alþingi decided it was not going to send a representative to the conference; under the banner of “increasing the power of women and sustainable development.”
“I have discussed several matters in parliament which touch women’s issues, including sexual abuse, the work of champagne clubs, domestic violence, and several others. When I heard about this conference, of course I wanted to go and see what the world is thinking,” Þorsteinn says.
Þorsteinn volunteered details of his trip at a parliament meeting yesterday, partly because Social Democrat MP Ólína Kjerúlf Þorvarðsdóttir had asked about the trip while he was away. “It was not my intention at the time to inform the whole nation that I was there at my own expense, and my wife along with me,” he said. “I was the only Icelandic parliamentarian there and I would recommend that Members who have a burning interest in these matters that it is totally worth spending a bit of their own money to be there and take part in the remarkable work that goes on there.”
Vísir reports Þorsteinn as stressing that he did not use any public money to take the trip, but adding that public money should be spent on the UN women’s conference in the future. “I encourage the idea that we should send MPs in the future; preferably from all parties, because this is really important.”