In 2014, Norway fared well in the rankings for the Global Gender Gap Report as determined by the World Economic Forum in Geneva, taking third place out of 142 countries. Scoring is based on five categories: economic participation and opportunity, educational attainment, health and survival and political empowerment. In the category of educational attainment, Norwegian females were rated as having total equality at primary, secondary and tertiary education levels. Earned income, literacy and life expectancy rates were also deemed equal to that of men or better.
Norway’s high ranking is a result of grassroots campaigns, government initiatives and quota systems. In 1978, Eva Kolstad was appointed the world’s first Gender Equality Ombud in Norway, whose responsibility was to work toward equality between women and men, specifically in regard to hiring.
Another tactic was to increase the presence of women in positions of power by making it a requirement as of 2006 for all publicly-held companies to have a minimum of 40% women on their board of directors, or face closure. State-owned firms were already required to have at least 45% female board representation. Norwegian equality minister at the time, Karita Bekkemellem, said that “More than half of the people who have a business education today are women. It is wrong for companies not to use them. They should be represented.” She added that she didn’t want to wait 20 or 30 years for society to catchup. Currently state panels, committees/and boards have only 38 percent female representation. Norway’s largest company, Statoil, Meets the 40% requirement. Six European countries have followed Norway’s example and the European Union’s parliament plans to require a 40% quota by 2020.
This article was taken from the Sons of Norway Newsletter Service. Learn more about Sons of Norway by visiting them on the web at www.sonsofnorway.com.