Information and Resources on Gender Equality and Gender Research in Norway

The Role of Civil Society

The engagement and advocacy work carried out by civil society have generally laid the ground for the spread of gender equality norms and issues. NGOs and researchers - both nationally and internationally - are important actors in providing knowledge on gender issues and language and arguments for new gender norms.

The civil society also generates public support through its advocacy, and by holding governments accountable to the standards and agreements they have already made. In Norway, NGOs, researchers and the State have formed a number of fruitful alliances. Internationally Norway has often supported transnational NGOs in developing gender policies.

Women’s organisations have placed gender equality on the political agenda, challenging the factors that contribute to and maintain the divisions in our societies between the public and private sphere, between paid and unpaid work and care, between equality and inequality.

The new women's movement emerged in the late 1960s and early 1970s as a forceful opinion of women and their struggle against oppression, and for an equal place for women in society.
Women activists took up issues, raising awareness on the different areas where women were being oppressed, and brought these up for public debate often in the media. They challenged, among other things, the divisions in our society between the public and private sphere, between paid and unpaid work and care. These organisations have also been important arenas in which women learn organisational and lobbying skills. Parallel with this re-vitalisation in women’s organisations, female researchers started to collect statistics and data, and they documented women’s secondary status in society. Feminist research showed Norwegian society as gendered and segregated along gender lines.

Some women activists went into politics, some went into research, and some were active in all three areas. Through the years, a large body of gender research has been produced. And, informed by the work of women’s research and women’s organisations, women in politics raised these issues in the parliament and brought about changes in the Law.

Although there have been frustrations and disagreements along the way, it can generally be said that a rather good relationship has developed between non-governmental organisations and the authorities in Norway. And a fruitful cooperation and open dialogue has developed, worthy of a functioning democracy, between research, non-governmental organisations and the state.

The media also play an important role in raising the issue of gender in the public debate, which is in turn important for the forming and creation of values in society.