Article | Last updated: 03/11/2021 | Ministry of Culture and Equality
We want to strengthen gender equality and create better protection against discrimination for all. A society free from discrimination is a prerequisite for equality and equal opportunities. Therefore, we must have strong and clear legislation that prevents discrimination on the grounds of gender and strives for effective legal protection.
UN Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women
The UN Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women was passed by the UN’s General Assembly on 18 December 1979 and entered into force on 3 September 1981. 189 countries are associated with it. Norway ratified this convention on 21 May 1981.
The Additional Protocol to the UN Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women was adopted on 6 October 1999 and was ratified by Norway on 5 March 2002. The UN Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women became part of Norwegian law through the former Gender Equality Act. The convention was incorporated into the Human Rights Act on 19 June 2009 and thus takes precedence over other Norwegian laws.
Equality and Anti-Discrimination Act
The right to not be discriminated against on the basis of gender is a human right which is enshrined in a number of conventions. Anti-discrimination legislation is the most important tool for upholding the law.
The Act relating to equality and a prohibition against discrimination (Equality and Anti-Discrimination Act) entered into force on 1 January 2018. The Act replaces the four earlier laws which put in place protection against discrimination on the basis of gender, ethnicity, disability and sexual orientation, gender identity and gender expression.
The Equality and Anti-Discrimination Act protects against discrimination on the basis of gender, pregnancy, parental or adoption leave, or caring responsibilities. The purpose of this law is to advance gender equality. Men and women must have access to equal opportunities in terms of education, work, and cultural and professional development. Both men and women are covered by this protection, even if the Equality and Anti-Discrimination Act is specifically aimed at improving the position of women, as stated in its provisions, cf. Section 1. The law requires employers, workplace organisations and public authorities to actively partake in work promoting equality.
The Anti-Discrimination Ombud Act
On 1 January 2018, a new law on the Equality and Anti-Discrimination Ombud and the Norwegian Anti-Discrimination Tribunal (the Anti-Discrimination Ombud Act) came into force. The law strengthens the role of the Equality and Anti-Discrimination Ombud as an enforcement body, while simultaneously ensuring that implementation of anti-discrimination legislation is made more effective through the establishment of the Norwegian Anti-Discrimination Tribunal.
The Equality and Anti-Discrimination Ombud shall work to promote equality and prevent discrimination based on gender in all areas of society. Anyone can contact the Ombud for guidance on equality and discrimination legislation. The Ombud ensures that governing authorities comply with the UN conventions on fundamental human rights. The Norwegian Anti-Discrimination Tribunal handles complaints relating to breaches of the law. The tribunal may impose compensation in cases relating to the workplace. The tribunal may also make decisions regarding compensation in individual cases.
On 1 January 2020, a new legislative amendment entered into force. This amendment gives the Norwegian Anti-Discrimination Tribunal the power to handle cases of sexual harassment. These cases have so far been dealt with by the courts. This amendment also strengthens the Equality and Anti-Discrimination Ombud’s offer of guidance and assistance to people who have been exposed to sexual harassment.