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Speech at She Conference

Prime Minister Erna Solbergs speech at She Conference in Oslo march 5th 2020.

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Dear ladies and gentlemen. Dear hosts.

In Norway, gender equality has been our political goal for decades. We rank as number two of 153 countries in the global gender gap report. 

Second best in the world, but still: There is no doubt we need to do more. We know that women are under-represented in the business sector. We know that there are fewer female business owners. Fewer entrepreneurs. Fewer female capitalists.

Listen to these numbers:

  • In 2017, only three out of 10 entrepreneurs were women.
  • On the Oslo stock exchange, 80 % of the assets listed are owned by men.
  • 6 out of 10 fund-based savings agreements are entered into by men
  • 80 % of all new limited liability companies are set up by men.
  • And for the comparison: 86 % of people who receive the minimum pension in Norway are women.

We need more action and awareness on these inequalities.

The Norwegian government has allocated 2 million NOK for a research project aiming to increase the share of women in top management in business.

Six months ago we submitted an action plan for female entrepreneurship. The action plan has 13 measures that will make it easier to become and to be a female entrepreneur in Norway.

Let me mention just two of these thirteen measures.

  • A review of how funding instruments are split by sex and establish common reporting standards in order to obtain an overview of how much funding goes to women entrepreneurs.
  • A white paper on innovation in the public sector. Elsewhere in Europe, cooperation between public-sector and start- ups are in focus when new initiatives for public-private partnerships are established. There is substantial potential for increased cooperation in this area in Norway. And women are in majority in many of the most relevant sectors.

The Action plan is just the beginning. We must work together to create the jobs and values ​​Norway will live of in the future.

We know that equal opportunities for both men and women is the right thing to do. At the same time, it is also the smart thing to do. One of the best investment we make is the investment in equality.

A research Institute in Norway has followed the growth in women's labour market participation over forty years, and which effect it has had on Norway's economy.

This report proves that we would have had a GNP 400 billion USD

smaller without this growth. It goes without saying, that without the female contribution to the economy there would be an enormous negative effect on our ability to provide welfare and secure jobs.

Therefore, this is not just a question for gender equality or for more diversity. It’s about maintaining a strong and sustainable welfare system for future generations. 

The Norwegian gender balance scoreboard was first published in 2016. It maps the gender balance of the executive committees and boards of the largest companies in Norway and examines the distribution of men and women in staff and line positions.  

The 2018 scoreboard showed small, but positive changes. I’m eager to see new results as the 2020 scoreboard will be launched this spring.

Norway’s number two-position in the world on equality should not primarily be a reason to celebrate, but an incentive to work harder.

Again: Gender equality is not only the right thing to do, it's also the smart thing to do. And, any business-leader or recruiter who doesn’t get that, is going to lose in the end.   

The conservative party`s womens organization had a slogan many years ago. “Women want and can”. You show this to the world. Thank you.

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