Quick facts

Qualitative facts

1.  Electoral system and party system and their impact on women

2.  History of Women's suffrage

3.  Legal framework for the promotion of a balance between men and women in political decision-making
   a.  Infrastructure responsible for EO
   b.  Women's participation in politics as a governmental objective and strategy
   c.  Actions initiated to promote women's participation in politics

Europäische Datenbank: Frauen in Führungspositionen

Report from Norway by our transnational partner
Kristin Bergersen

Quick facts
Women in Politics:
Women's suffrage active: 1885
Women's suffrage passive:  
1st Women in parliament: 1911
1st Women in government: 1948-1953 Aaslaug Aasland,
Ministry of Health and Social Affairs
1st Ministry on women's issues: 1977
% women in national Parliament: 41,2% (2000)
% women in national Government: 42,0% (2000)
Electoral System:
Proportional: The electoral system is direct and proportional with elections in constituencies delegating more then one MP.
Quota:
Quota Law:  
Party Quota: 40% quota for elected representatives in many parties.
Education:
% women with secondary degree: 52,0 %
% women with degree in higher education: 21,0%
% women in senior management: 15% public sector, 6% private sector
Women's employment rates:
Full time: 55,0%
Part-time: 45,0%
Activity rate:  
Unemployment: 3,3%
*sources: Employment in Europe 1999 and Schlüsselzahlen zum Bildungswesen in der Europäischen Union, Amt für amtliche Veröffentlichungen der Europäischen Gemeinschaft 1997, Luxemburg; European Database - Women in Decision-Making and data by transnational experts.

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Qualitative facts

1. Electoral system and party system and their impact on women

Democratic and parliamentary system, established in 1884. Norway has a pluralistic political party system, where the political parties control the nomination of candidates. The election system is a proportional list system, rather than single candidate constituencies. This kind of selection process has provided a good basis for women seeking political power.

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2. History of Women's suffrage

The Women's Suffrage Association was founded in 1885. Women first received the right to vote in a general election in 1913. Norway has long been noted for the high percentage of women in the political field. That is mainly the result of the new women's movement that emerged in the end of the 1960's. Feminist ideas had a major impact on political ideas and led to laws such as the Kindergarten Act (1975), Maternity Leave (1977), Termination of Pregnancy (1978), and finally to the Equal Status Act (1979). Women joined political parties and changed the political agenda once and for all. The 70's was characterized by women entering the work force. The 80's was the decade of women in education. In the 90's, women tried to break the glass ceiling and some (not many) managed to get into management positions. This is the final barricade for women in Norway today.

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3. Legal framework for the promotion of a balance between men and women in political decision-making

The Gender Equality Act was adopted in 1978 and is currently under revision. The background for the adoption of this law was a need for commitment and an active effort on the governmental level to promote the status of women. The objectives of the act are to:
- Influence attitudes about the roles of women and men, thereby committing the authorities to work actively for gender equality.
- Promote gender equality, particularly to improve the positions of women.
In principle the Act applies to all sectors of society. The most important article is the general clause; whereby any discriminatory treatment of men and women on the grounds of gender is prohibited. The general clause also introduces positive action. Differential treatment of men and women may be in accordance with the Act if the treatment promotes gender equality in accordance with the purpose of the Act. Positive action can be used for the benefit of both men and women. Certain professions such as the care for small children has been an area where positive action has been used for men, whereas women have benefited from positive action in schools, universities and the work place.

The Act also includes a principle stating that both women and men shall be represented in all official bodies, councils and committees. When a public body appoints or elects a committee with four members or more, each sex shall be represented with at least 40 percent of the members.

In the political field there exists no formal quota requirements, but the major political parties have internal quota rules stating that at least 40 percent of the candidates should be women.

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a. Infrastructure responsible for EO

First established in 1956, The Ministry of Family and Consumer Affairs was the predecessor of the Family and Equal Status Department in the Ministry of Consumer Affairs and Government Administration established in 1977.
The Norwegian gender equality machinery today consists of three different governmental bodies: The Ministry of Children and Family Affairs, The Gender Equality Ombudsman and The Centre for Gender Equality. The Ministry has the overall responsibility for gender equality in the governmental system, but has no instruction authority over the two other bodies. However, they do have budgetary power and the main responsibility for family policies.
The Ombudsman's main task is to make sure that the provisions given in the Gender Equality Act of 1978 are followed. That means that she/he can receive complaints from individuals or groups who claim that injustice has been done to them based on gender.
The Centre for Gender Equality was established in 1997 and replaced the Gender Equality Council from 1972, which had replaced the Equal Pay Council from 1959. The main task of the Centre is to promote gender equality in different areas of society: education, business life, politics, domestic life and so on.

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b. Women's participation in politics as a governmental objective and strategy

Since the 1970's, the authorities, influenced by the new and strong women's movement, have consciously pursued a policy to integrate gender equality into policy-making. The recruitment of women into politics has therefore been acknowledged as an important political goal for the last three decades. Political participation for women has been the most important tool to invoke changes for women in other fields of society.
The Minister of Children and Family Affairs stated in a speech in front of the Storting (parliament) May 6th 1997 that the government's aim is "Equal opportunities for all people to shape their own lives and to influence the development of our society." Two years later the Minister of Children and Family Affairs repeated the message, although from a different political party than the latter, that: "Equal representation of gender is one of the most important prerequisites for good policy making, and includes areas such as justice and the ability to influence the development of our society." These two different statements from different political parties, show the deep-rooted understanding of gender equality, across political boundaries, as an important and crucial objective in governmental policies in Norway.

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c. Actions initiated to promote women's participation in politics

Norwegian women's organizations have always been a vital and necessary factor in influencing the Norwegian society on gender issues. The government gives financial support to women's organizations. There also exists a long tradition in including representatives from NGO's in official Norwegian delegations to international fora.
In connection with the four major Norwegian universities, there has been established four different centres for feminist research. In addition there has been established a Norwegian Information- and Documentation Centre for Women's Studies and Gender Research. They all contribute to the scientific knowledge on women in political decision-making.
Campaigns to increase the number of women in political decision-making positions have mainly been initiated by the Centre for Gender Equality. The first campaign was held in 1967 on the local level, increasing the proportion of women municipal council members from 6 to 9.5 percent. The campaign "More women in local government" has been run every local election since then. The percentage of women in local government is today 34,3.

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