The equality of men and women in Norway

In this blog contribution I’d like to focus on some very current topics: the equality of men and women as well as the acceptance of same sex couples. Here in Norway I was astonished how normal it is for couples to show their love and affection for each other in public places.

And especially how it is accepted by the people around them. Same sex couples are nowadays a normal thing and fortunately no longer a taboo! But still, back home in Switzerland I know quite a few people who still need to get used to seeing same sex couples or just keep staring at them. Here in Norway it is as usual as any couple and that’s very refreshing! 

It’s not just the same sex couples though. It is also the way they treat every gender. In Norway I was surprised at how often you can find bathrooms that are open to both men and women. They do have separate bathrooms as well but usually you can use whichever one you like. This was kind of confusing the first few times but you get used to it really fast and it’s quite convenient: every girl knows the struggle of waiting in a long queue.

Scandinavia seems to be quite advanced in promoting equality rights and how they try to treat each and every person the same way. They really care about having a balance of men and women considering the work positions as well as in politics.

I’m seriously impressed by how much effort the Norwegians put into making equality reality and not just a promise.

Here in Bergen I joined some Salsa courses as I had already danced before and wanted to meet some locals. It was one of my best decisions. I met a lot of Norwegian people and discovered a big dancing scene in Bergen. During the courses they always talked about the “leader” and the “follower” in a figure. I didn’t even realize that this was a gender-neutral description until one of the instructors used “man” and “woman” instead and corrected himself immediately after saying it. They really try not to put a label on who’s the follower and who’s the leader as it’s stereotypical usually the woman who follows and the man who leads. I was so surprised as this has never come to my mind in Switzerland! At some point there weren’t enough followers so a guy decided to take this part. Some of us laughed a bit (he as well) and the instructor immediately told us to let it be, that this is normal and shouldn’t be an unusual thing to do.

I’m seriously impressed by how much effort the Norwegians put into making equality reality and not just a promise. As a woman you got real chances to gain a high position in a working environment. Every woman or every couple gets a lot of weeks off for taking care of their newborns – an issue that’s still a big discussion in Switzerland. Childcare is a huge thing here as well! On every corner you can find a Kindergarten and parents can even take their babies to the gym, everyone is fine with that.

For me, Norway is already far ahead of a lot of other European countries considering childcare, equality for everyone and the acceptance of all genders. It opens your eyes even without knowing that they were closed.

Eva Roeren

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