Gender equality

Gender equality


Yngve Flo and Jacob Aars:

Women’s voting rights in local elections: a step towards parliamentary suffrage or a goal in itself?

When women in 1913 obtained voting rights in Norwegian parliamentary elections they had already been granted the vote in local elections three years earlier, in 1910. Hence, females acquired political rights at the local prior to the national level. The purpose of our article is to discuss female political citizenship both as part of the local government sphere and as part of national democracy. In the first part we account for the contents and the ramifications of the debate on local suffrage. In the second part we examine the actual utilization of the newly achieved political rights, in terms of turnout as well as representation. The lesson to be learned from our article is twofold: On one hand, local suffrage was an important precursor to national suffrage but on the other hand it was important in its own right. Universal local suffrage for women may be interpreted as an important step towards the realization of full political rights for women at national level. Moreover, by means of local voting rights women gained access to local political positions that in turn provided the most important stepping stone towards elected positions at the national level. At the same time, the right to participate in local elections was more than a means towards political rights at national level. Local political citizenship was and is important to women as well as men independently of the national political arena.

Keywords: Female suffrage, local elections, citizenship, political participation, political representation, institutional context


Brita Ytre-Arne:

Women’s suffrage in the media, 1890-1913

This article analyses how the introduction of women’s suffrage was covered in the Norwegian media in the period 1890-1913. The Norwegian parliament granted women equal voting rights in 1913, making Norway one of the first countries in the world to institute general female suffrage. Through analysis of three newspapers and two women’s journals I explore the media coverage of this event and of previous parliamentary debates on women’s voting rights. The analysis indicates that the mediation of women’s suffrage was influenced by changing journalistic genres and by discourses of gender difference. I draw on feminist contributions to public sphere theory in order to explore differences in the media coverage in newspapers and in women’s journals, but I also argue that the constitution of private and public spheres came to be a central topic in the public debate on women’s voting rights.

Keywords: Suffrage, public sphere, newspapers, women’s journals, gender difference


Kristina Söderholm:

Swedish Parliamentary Women in Consensus and Conflict in the Early 1990s

With their long tradition of steadily growing numbers of women in politics, the Nordic countries are well suited to study with respect to the implication of women’s interests (and their numbers) for the political content. The Swedish Parliament in the early 1990s is particularly interesting in this context. During this period the number of women in Parliament decreased for the first time in many years and a public opinion was formed that put pressure on the remaining women to collaborate more in order to achieve (gender-based) political changes. What impact did this opinion have on the Swedish parliamentary women? Did they collaborate more across party lines than before and if so around what issues? The purpose of this article was to empirically examine women’s collaboration and common interests in the Swedish Parliament during the mandate period 1991/92–1993/94 as it was expressed in block (left-right)-crossing motions. We show that a more intense cross-party collaboration among women emerged during this period even though the number of women in Parliament decreased. However, the collaboration was not particularly centered on women and gender equality but instead on other issues. At a general level the results also demonstrate the importance of context and of the complexity of the “politics of presence”.

Keywords: Women in parliament, cross-political cooperation, joint motions, swedish parliament, the 1990s


Arnfinn H. Midtøen and Marit Teigen:

Social investment in gender equality? Multidimensional perspectives on Norwegian activation policies

This article draws on theories of social investment to explore recent changes in Norwegian work and welfare policies, and the role of gender equality in these changes. The empirical analysis suggests that ideas of social investment indeed permeate recent changes in Norwegian work and welfare policies. However, questions of gender equality are not addressed in the documents introducing these changes, except when the problem at hand is the employment rates of migrant women – who are the main recipients of activation policies. In conclusion, we discuss how different perceptions of gender exist simultaneously in the Norwegian work and welfare politics.

Keywords: Gender equality, ethnicity, social policies, welfare reform, immigration, active citizenship


Trine Annfelt and Berit Gullikstad:

Gender mainstreaming policy – in the service of inclusion?

Norway has introduced gender mainstreaming as a political strategy. The aim is gender justice and gender equality for all. This article asks how the goal of gender mainstreaming is operationalised in political practices when it comes to inclusion of migrant women and if the new and political actualised concept of “gender+” is a fruitful political-theoretical framework for inclusion policy. The article thematises these questions based on discursive analysis of governmental and parliamentary policy documents of gender equality, diversity and labour market in the last 10-15 years. In the documents migrant women are mainly represented as a problem, especially because of their less/low participation in the labour market. The documents explain the low participation in many ways, but a general argument is “their” patriarchal culture. An effect of the representations is the conceptualisation of gender as an essensialistic and universal dicothomy, constituting women and men as two separate and homogenous categories. Another effect is the stabilising of the majority Norwegian woman as the main subject of gender equality policies. The article concludes that the “gender+” political philosophy will not destabilise gender essentialism, universalism and ethnocentrism.

Keywords: Gender equality policy, gender+, intersectionality, labour market policy, ethnosentrism, document analysis.


Kristine Smeby and Berit Brandth:

Between home and kindergarten: Gender equality in the third shift

In this article we explore the third shift of organizing and planning family life in dual-earner families of pre-school children. Generally mothers have been responsible for pulling the strings to adjust all activities in a functioning manner to avoid imbalance between home and work – and at the same time managing gender equality. Here we discuss when and how also fathers may participate in the third shift to gain more understanding of family responsibility. One result is that fathers need to be given, as well as claim, space to acquire knowledge and experience of the management of everyday life in and between home and arenas like the kindergarten, as well as of the children’s world of birthdays and other irregular events.

Keywords: Gender equality, third shift, family management, kindergartens, fathering.