Information and Resources on Gender Equality and Gender Research in Norway

Policy Areas

Gender equality policies has been more or less successfully integrated into the following areas: families and relationships; work, welfare and the economy; power and decision-making; education and research; crime and violence; peace and development; culture, media and sports; and health and reproductive rights. Other policy areas: transport and communication; finance; agriculture and food; fisheries and coastal affairs; petroleum and energy; and the environment are still at an earlier phase.

A number of steps have been taken to ensure men and women equal access to higher education, equal opportunities for participation in the labour force and in choice of occupation. Today, women and men have more or less equal levels of education, and women’s participation in working life has increased dramatically since the 1960s. However, work towards achieving equal access to resources is still clearly unfinished. Women’s income still stands at approximately 60 per cent of men’s. This is largely due to the gender segregated labour market in Norway - most women work in the public sector and most men in the private sector. Pregnant women are discriminated against in workplaces, and equal pay is still an unachieved goal. This inequality in what women and men earn is also closely related to the low level of entrepreneurship among women compared to men and the fact that men hold the majority of key political, economic and other decision-making positions.

A number of steps have also been taken by successive Norwegian governments towards supporting two-career families. But the efforts involved in facilitating a reconciliation of work and family life are hindered by what is referred to as the ‘caring deficit’ - the gap between the need for care and the availability of its supply. Care arrangements for children and other dependents are relatively good, but not good enough. In addition, the division of responsibilities within households between men and women is unequal - women still do most of the housework. They also take most of the available parental leave and it is they who utilize the cash benefit scheme.

The diversity of post-modern lifestyles also raises new gender issues, such as childhood dominated by female parenting after separations, or the problems men living in same sex partnerships face in establishing families and having children.

On the question of ageing, women generally live longer than men. The fertility rate in Norway is relatively high compared to other western countries.

Many illnesses are gendered, due, not only to biological differences between women and men, but also to differing lifestyles and the socio-economic conditions in which men and women live. In the area of reproductive health, Norway was quick to recognise women’s right to make decisions about their bodies, including freedom of choice in terms of abortion. There is however more work to be done in other health areas. Many illnesses that women are prone to are not prioritised, and treatments for these illnesses are comparatively under-resourced.

Gender-based violence has gained recognition in Norwegian society as a social problem, demanding the attention and focus of the authorities. However, domestic violence, rape, prostitution and human trafficking continue to be major barriers to gender equality. Perpetrators of gender-based violence are mostly men and those subject to these forms of violence are largely women. Norway has developed a number of measures for the prevention of these forms of violence, for the protection of the victims as well as for responding to the perpetrators. There are shelters for battered women, and men who are violent have access to treatment and counselling.

Norway’s national gender issues are more or less the same as those found internationally. Norway aims to mainstream gender in Norwegian foreign policy, in the areas of peace and reconciliation and development cooperation.

Religion, culture and sports are all areas which present a number of ongoing challenges to gender equality. Population, including issues around immigration and the situation of refugees and asylum seekers, is also an area with a number of challenges to gender equality.