Digital Women’s Day is ‘still necessary’

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Traditional events to mark International Women’s Day in Norway had to go digital this year, but organizers claimed they were still important and necessary. Norwegian women have arguably advanced farther than most, but continue to be over-represented in sectors with the most low-paying part-time jobs.

This was the scene on March 8th, 2018 at Youngstorget in Oslo, when thousands gathered to demonstrate in favour of women’s rights. The Corona crisis prevented any such gatherings this year, but organizers of Norway’s Kvinnedagen (International Women’s Day) were hosting digital events and stressing that the day is still important. PHOTO: Kvinnedagen

“We want to use the 8th of March to show how important it is to have policies for more full-time- and higher-paid work, and better working conditions all over the country,” Synnøve Konglevoll of Norway’s largest trade union federation LO told the labour news service FriFagbevegelse on Monday.

The labour movement and the Labour Party were once again front and center in organizing events for what the Norwegians call Kvinnedagen, despite all the Corona virus-related restrictions that prevent people from gathering together. They had a full digital program to replace the speeches and parades usually held in Norwegian cities on March 8th. Organizers were streaming political appeals and cultural events all day and there was still a long list of themes, including calls for equal pay, better welfare programs, preservation of abortion rights and better integration of immigrant women. There were also calls to halt violence against women, boost support for women’s organizations and raise salaries in the lowest-paid jobs mostly held by women.

Norwegian newspapers, meanwhile, were full of women’s rights-related stories, with headlines like “MeToo was no bluff” and topics ranging from a new book entitled “Norwegian women’s history in 200 pages” to how the Corona crisis has revealed how many women “don’t get the pay they deserve.” The article referred specifically to how the majority of nurses and teachers, for example, are women.

Business newspaper Dagens Næringsliv (DN) reported that there still isn’t economic equality between men and women in Norway, despite decades of gender equality programs. DN highlighted 11 Norwegian women who “paved the way” into male-dominated industries and how they all agree that International Women’s Day remains important.

Kristin Skogen Lund, the media executive who became the first women to lead Norway’s national employers’ organization, said it was good to “have a day to remind each other that the job (to achieve gender equality) isn’t over yet.” Gunn Wærsted, leader of the boards of Telenor and state oil field owner Petoro, said she wished it wasn’t necessary any longer, “but it unfortunately is.”

Lots of work ahead
Hannah Gunvor Jacobsen, investment director for Summa Equity, represents a new generation of women in the finance branch. “We’re lucky to live in Norway and are well on the way to a society characterized by equality, but even though things can look equal on paper, structural issues mean we have a ways to go,” Jacobsen told DN. “Women’s Day is a reminder that work remains.”

Hilde Merete Aasheim, chief executive of Norsk Hydro and its 35,000 employees, agrees the job to achieve gender equality isn’t finished. Aasheim is best known as becoming the first woman to lead one of Norway’s largest companies.

“I believe in diversity,” Aasheim told DN, “and it’s good that we put the spotlight on imbalance and unfairness.” Also in Norway.

NewsInEnglish.no/Nina Berglund