Karin Stoltenberg, a veteran politician for Norway’s Labour Party and mother of Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg, died during the night after what her family said was a short illness. She was 80, and her death was being mourned not only by her prominent family but by top politicians and her party as well.
The prime minister cancelled his program for the day after his office announced his mother’s death Wednesday morning. She’s also survived by daughters Camilla and Nini and her husband, former Norwegian Foreign Minister Thorvald Stoltenberg.
Karin Stoltenberg was, like other members of her family, active in national and local politics for years. She was educated in the field of genetics and worked for both the Red Cross and state development agency Norad, while also moving around the world with her diplomat husband who held positions in the foreign ministry for many years.
She was also, though, one of Labour’s pioneering female politicians and served as a state secretary in what formerly was the government ministry for trade and shipping in the 1980s, and later in what’s now the government ministry for business and trade. Karin Stoltenberg also served on Oslo’s city council and was active in several local issues in her home neighbourhood of Frogner.
She’s perhaps best remembered for her efforts to push forward Norway’s laws on equality, partnerships without marriage and women’s rights to make their own decisions on abortion. When once asked who he looked up to most of all, Norway’s current prime minister said “Karin Stoltenberg.” He has often referred to his parents simply as “Karin” and “Thorvald.”
Raymond Johansen, secretary of the Labour Party, called Karin Stoltenberg “a woman at the forefront of her time, one of those who made sure that Norway is, today, one of the world’s most egalitarian countries.”
Torild Skar, a former Member of Parliament for the Socialist Left party (SV) and also a pioneering female politicians, described Karin Stoltenberg’s work over the years as “incredibly important,” saying that she played a major role for Norwegian family policies and equality.
“She was a pioneer, but not always highly visible,” Skar told Norwegian Broadcasting (NRK), adding that she felt the prime minister’s mother “never received the recognition she fully deserved.”
Funeral arrangements were pending.
Views and News from Norway/Nina Berglund
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