Gender equality

The Ministry of Children, Equality and Social Inclusion has the main responsibility for the work relating to the government's gender equality policy. The Ministry deals with gender equality in working life, women and power, and men and equality. It is a driving force in the work of developing a gender perspective in the national budget.

CEDAW is the UN Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women. It was adopted by the UN General Assembly on 18 December 1979, entered into force on 3 September 1981 and has been ratified by 186 states. Norway ratified this convention on 21 May 1981.

The Optional Protocol to the UN Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women gives individuals and groups of individuals the opportunity to have their case heard by the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women. The Optional Protocol was adopted on 6 October 1999 and ratified by Norway on 5 March 2002. CEDAW became part of Norwegian law when the Gender Equality Act was passed. On 19 June 2009, the convention was incorporated into the Human Rights Act and has thus been given precedence over other Norwegian legislation.

 The Gender Equality Act

The right not to be discriminated against on the basis of gender is a human right stipulated in a number of conventions. The anti-discrimination legislation is the most important tool for implementing these obligations. The Gender Equality Act provides protection against discrimination on the basis of gender. This Act's purpose is to promote equality between the sexes. Women and men are to be given equal opportunities in education and work and in their cultural and professional development. Both women and men are covered by this protection, even though the Gender Equality Act's statement of legislative purpose is particularly aimed at improving the position of women, cf section 1.

The Act imposes a duty on employers and public authorities to actively work to ensure gender equality. The Equality and Anti-Discrimination Ombud monitors and helps to ensure that the Act is implemented. The Ombud deals with complaints about breaches of the law and provides legal guidance. The Ombud's statements may be appealed against to the Equality and Anti-Discrimination Tribunal, which can make binding decisions.

A common gender equality and anti-discrimination Act

The government wants equal protection against discrimination on any grounds. It must be easy for individuals to see the protection they have against discrimination. It must be easy for people to see the duty they have not to discriminate. That is the reason for wanting to gather all the anti-discrimination legislation in one Act.

The idea of a common gender equality and anti-discrimination Act is taken from human rights. A common Act is in line with the approach of the general Human Rights Convention.

The Anti-Discrimination Act Commission, which submitted its report to the government in 2009, recommended a common gender equality and anti-discrimination Act. The commission's proposal to have one common Act was supported by a large majority of the bodies consulted, including the Equality and Anti-Discrimination Ombud.

The Ministry is currently working on a new, common gender equality and anti-discrimination Act, and a broad range of bodies will be invited to comment on this in 2015. The government wants to further develop the statutory protection against discrimination and believes that it is the substantive protection that is important, not the number of Acts. The goal is to have more user-friendly, coherent, tidy and fair protection by merging the legislation.

A report to parliament (white paper) on equality between women and men

The Norwegian government wishes to remove obstacles that limit women's and men's freedom of choice, which is why it has submitted a report to parliament on equality between women and men. This report state the future gender equality policy and the goal is to pave the way for increased choice for individuals and families through measures and tools that provide positive stimulation. The report to parliament deals with gender equality work in selected areas of society. The topics discussed are childhood and education, working life, entrepreneurship, violence and abuse, and gender and health. The challenges facing both men and women are also discussed and the report have a clear minority perspective. The report was submitted to parliament in October 2015.

 Integration of gender equality
An important strategy in the gender equality policy is to integrate the gender equality perspective in the formation of all policy at central, regional and local levels. In relation to the authorities' work, the strategy relating to sector responsibility for gender equality is relevant. This means that each ministry is responsible for gender equality in its field. The Ministry of Children, Equality and Social Inclusion is at the same time responsible for coordinating the gender equality policy.

Key tools in the gender equality integration work are the activity and reporting obligations stipulated in the gender equality and anti-discrimination legislation, the Instructions for Official Studies and Reports and the Ministry of Finance's main budget circular.