Why do we still celebrate International Women's Day?

By Ingrid Aune Westrum 7. Mar 2024

Together with Iceland and Finland, Norway is at the top of the list of the world's most gender-equal countries*. So why is International Women's Day on 8th March still important in Norway in 2024?

Norway scores 87.9 percent on gender equality

Global gender gap report 2023 lists Norway as a world leader in gender equality. We are ranked number two in the world with 87.9 percent gender equality, only surpassed by Iceland which has been at the top for the fourteenth year in a row, with 91.2 percent in 2023.

For comparison, Europe averages 76.3 percent, while North Africa and the Middle East are at the bottom with 62.6 percent. It is estimated that Europe as a region will achieve full gender equality in 67 years if the current trend continues.

These numbers reflect the impact of all the work that has been done, especially in the last 50 years, on the women's movement in Norway. We have come a long way, further than most. But there is still a way to go in key areas.

These issues are some of the reasons why we should continue to mark March 8:

  • Violence against women is unfortunately a very current issue. Women's Day can be used to draw attention to continuing the work to prevent and address violence in the home, sexual abuse, and assault.

  • Women are underrepresented in certain job markets, especially in essential areas such as technology and politics. We must work purposefully to ensure that future women choose careers in these areas. Gender and politics: Equal right to power?

  • Men dominate at the top. Only 14 percent of the top leaders in Norway's largest companies are women. Core - Center for Gender Equality Research.

  • Equal pay for equal work? Unfortunately, not yet. Social research confirms: When we compare identical women and men of the same age, with the same education, working in the same sector, industry, and occupation, the wage difference is 8 percent. At the top of the wage scale, the hourly wage is 19 percent lower for women. In Iceland, they have created a wage equality standard, where companies are closely monitored, certified, and fined if they do not adhere to the standard. Part-time work: Women work twice as much part-time as men (37 percent for women compared to 17 percent for men, figures from 2020 - SSB).

  • Pension: Pensjonistforbundet reports that a full 83.5 percent of minimum pensioners in Norway are women. This is linked to wages, career choices, and part-time work and is an important slogan on March 8.

  • Discrimination still happens. Women's Day is important in combating all forms of gender-based discrimination, including sexual harassment, stereotypical roles, and lack of representation in leadership positions.

  • Women's health. Gender's impact on health is real, and there are still significant knowledge gaps when it comes to women's health. The Women's Health Committee was appointed on March 5, 2021, and presented its report on March 2, 2023. "Increase the status of women's health, place responsibility for women's health where it belongs, and ensure that knowledge about women's health reaches healthcare services" were among the proposals from the Women's Health Committee.

  • Balance between work/family life. Applies to both women and men and is an important slogan. We can work towards a flexible working life during the period of having young children and ensure that there is a culture in which it is as natural for men as for women to take responsibility for this balance.

The International Women's Day reminds us of the need for continuous work to achieve full equality between genders in all areas of society: at work, in politics, and at home.

Happy Women's Day! 🦸🏽‍♀️🧕🏻🏋🏻‍♀️💃🏿🤹🏾‍♀️

Some International Women's Day history

  • The International Women's Day is celebrated every year on March 8.

  • Women's Day was established in 1910. In 1921, it was decided that the March 8 should be the fixed date for the celebration.

  • The day was first celebrated in Norway in 1915.

  • In conjunction with the International Women's Year in 1975, March 8 was proclaimed International Women's Day by the United Nations. Today, it is more or less celebrated by women and men all over the world.

Source: snl.no


World Economic Forum: Global gender gap report 2023

FN: Indeks for skjevfordeling mellom kjønnene (2021)

SSB: Likestillingsutfordringer i deltidsarbeid og utdanningsnivå (2022)

Pensjonistforbundet: Gamle damer er ikke verdt noe (2024)

Kvinnehelseutvalget: Det holder ikke lenger med symbolpolitikk. Kvinners helse må tas på alvor (2023).

OECD: Toolkit for Mainstreaming and Implementing Gender Equality.

Movember and Mens Day

Ingrid Aune Westrum

Ingrid Aune Westrum

Editor ssn.no