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Gender equality important to parents and generals alike

| By Björn Lindahl, acting editor

Last year Denmark got its first female leader for the confederation of trade unions, and Norway got its first female chief justice of the supreme court. There are still a few positions of power not yet held by a woman among the 24 which the Nordic Labour Journal measures. But the only position never held by a woman in any Nordic country is commander-in-chief.

That is why we have chosen ‘Gender equality in war in peace’ as our theme when we present our gender equality barometer for the sixth time.

“There are no shortcuts if you want to get a female commander-in-chief. It takes the same amount of time to become a general or admiral whether you’re a woman or a man,” points out Major General Kristin Lund, who is the first female commander of a UN peacekeeping mission. 

This year’s barometer shows the total Nordic result is down three points. A total of 100 points signifies full gender equality in the 24 positions of power. This year women reached 66 points.

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The slight dip hides the historically very strong, in female terms, Helle Thorning-Schmidt government in Denmark. Before it fell on 28 June last year, it had three female party leaders in prominent positions. In the current government led by Lars Løkke Rasmussen there are only two women among the 13 government posts which we measure.

There is no doubt all the Norwegian countries are studying each other. Danish parents of small children want the same rights to go part time as their Swedish counterparts. 71 percent of Danes think parents of small children should be allowed to go part time.

Swedish parents are entitled to 480 days parental leave, and eight weeks are earmarked for both the father and the mother. But Denmark is divided – 45 percent want to copy the Swedish model while 44 percent do not.

Swedish foreign policy is also gaining attention, after Margot Wallström in 2014 became the first foreign minister to declare the country was going to adopt a feminist foreign policy. 

The Nordic Labour Journal talks to Ann Bernes, the newly appointed ambassador for a feminist foreign policy. When asked what other countries think about this, she refers to the Minister of Foreign Affairs Margot Wallström’s usual answer: 

”At the beginning there was a certain giggle factor, but this has been replaced with interest and respect.”

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