Empowering gender equality

When talking about gender equality, it is not just about cheering for equal rights and justice (although that is very important), it’s also about national prosperity and financial gain.

Like the late, great Kofi Annan once said:

"Gender equality is more than a goal in itself. It is a precondition for meeting the challenge of reducing poverty, promoting sustainable development and building good governance". 

Norway is considered to be one of the most gender equal countries in the world. That does not mean that it is without issues, or areas to improve. But it means that this small and cold country in the North is doing something right. Study in Norway and be a part of a diverse, inclusive, and free society.

An economic perspective

A report from the Norwegian Department of Social Research, based on findings from 1973 to 2013, concludes that the connection between equality and prosperity is indisputable. It shows that 10 percent of the GDP growth comes from growth in employment, largely due to growth in women's employment. The analysis concludes that the GDP would have been NOK 3300 billion lower if we had not had this growth. If women had been working as much as men, the GDP would have been 2300 billion higher. Therefore, there is still a big financial gain to be had if more women worked full-time.

Women determine global growth

Outside Norway’s borders the numbers would be even higher, and the gain larger. Therefore, global cooperation on sustainable development is important. An analysis done by The McKinsey Global Institute, concluded that if women and men played an identical role in the labour market, it could add a further US$28 trillion to global annual gross domestic product (GDP) by 2025.

In the autumn of 2015, the UN launched 17 sustainability targets to eradicate poverty, fight inequality and stop climate change. One of the goals is about equality and strengthening of the position of girls and women:

Gender equality is not only a fundamental human right, but a necessary foundation for a peaceful, prosperous and sustainable world. Providing women and girls with equal access to education, health care, decent work, and representation in political and economic decision-making processes will fuel sustainable economies and benefit societies and humanity at large.

A recent report by the World Economic Forum found that it would take 217 years to reach gender equality at the current pace of social and economic change. Therefore, we have no time to lose.

Empowering Gender Equality

Getting women on board

The report Better Leadership, Better World: Women Leading for the Global Goals by WomenRising2018, an initiative launched by the Business Sustainable and Development Commission, shows that women’s leadership can unlock major opportunities linked to sustainable economy. It describes a series of analyses that conclude that having women represented in top management and corporate boards pays off:

  • Companies where women accounted for at least 15 percent of senior management, had 18 percent higher profitability than companies with fewer women in senior management.
  • Companies with a high degree of gender equality, performed 11 percent better than companies with a lower level of gender equality. These companies also performed better than the general market in the same period, while companies with low levels of gender equality lost ground.
  • Managers who included women had lower bankruptcy risk than other companies, and there was a greater likelihood of managing decisions that gave significant long-term profitability and success.

So what are we going to do about it?

While the financial crisis in 2007 got the rest of the world to think about the importance of advanced regulation of gender parity, Norway had already systemised, institutionalised and implemented laws and quotas to enforce gender equality years before. For example, The Quota Law (first of its kind) from 2004 demands that 40% of corporate boards, both in the public and private sector, have to be female representatives. The report “Women in the Boardroom – A Global Perspective” shows that Norway has the highest representation of women in the boardroom in the world (42%). Although this is a positive step in the right direction, the proportion of female CEOs is still low.

Studies show that the lack of female managers largely depends on the way many businesses and industries organise their work. And even though women have the same educational level, work experience and ambitions as men, women tend to be left behind and fall off the career ladder when they have children. The gender gap increases, and women have a hard time making up for lost time. They fall behind on wages, work experience and career opportunities. 

The Gender Equality Experience

We invited six students from all over the world, to Stand Out and Go North – to learn about the resource that is more profitable than oil – women! We also invited Former U.S. Secretary of State, Hillary Rodham Clinton, to join our conference.

Enabling gender equality through parental leave policies

Changing culture, people’s values, or making big social changes is not done by regulation, policies or by writing new laws alone, but it is a way to facilitate and ensure that changes are possible. So, we know now that society as a whole has a lot to gain financially from women being active in working life. We also know that having children is one of the biggest challenges to making work life gender equal.

The Norwegian welfare system has been a pioneer in parental leave arrangements, making it possible for both mothers and fathers to care for their children at home. This gives families greater flexibility to choose who’s staying home and who’s working. This is not only strengthening women’s career opportunities, but also strengthening father’s rights to care for their families the way they choose to. In Norway both women and men are entitled to 15 weeks of parental leave each. The remaining 16 weeks can be divided between them in the way that suits the family situation. 70% of men in Norway use their entire quota.

These political regulations are some of the incentives the Norwegian government use to drive positive social, environmental and economic influence. By studying in Norway you will become a part of a strong, free and gender equal society.

Stand out. Go North.

Deciding where to study is a big decision.

Moving to a new country to study is even bigger. There are many good reasons to choose Norway and BI Norwegian Business School, and you can find some of them below.