that was held at Toyonaka Foundation for Gender Equality Promotion,
May the 12th 2001, and at Takefu Gender Equality Association, May
the 13th 2001.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
is indeed a great honour for me to have been invited to address
you here today. The topic of my speech will be the Social Welfare
system in Norway, with special reference to the support systems
we have for our working mothers. I shall do my best to cover this
topic as seen from my own perspective, as I happen to be one of
about 125 000 single Norwegians mothers in that position.
Let me first give you a little historic background for the establishment
of the Norwegian Social Welfare system. It all started with the
famous "Castberg childrens laws" in 1915,
named after our countrys first Minister for social welfare.
Norway had only just emerged as an independent country after more
than 400 years of Danish and Swedish domination (1905). The nation
was poor, but energetic and optimistic. We managed to stay out of
World War 1, and our Liberal Parliament had already decided to give
women voting rights.
There were many female activists, who were fighting for the rights
of women and their children, whether they were conceived inside
or outside the frame of marriage. They also worked for the establishment
of homes for poor unmarried women, information about contraception
and for legalizing abortions.
It took more than half a century to realize these goals, as our
young nation had more pressing problems to attend to, as indeed
did the rest of the world. One of the first tasks to be solved after
World War 2 and the end of Nazi Germanys occupation of Norway,
was the issue of Family Allowance. This was passed as a law already
in 1945, and since then our social welfare system has been developed
continuously and today Norway can claim to be among the leading
nations in this respect.
Impact of Politics
Norways political life has been influenced by the development
in our society as a whole. "If women are to have any say in
the lives they lead, they must enter politics." Said Fernanda
Nissen (1862-1920), a well known feminist and politician.
Mariko Mitsui has written the book "Cross Men Out!-Women's
Coup in Norway" in japanese language, and it recounts the women
in Norwegian politics, Norwegian women's liberation history, our
quota system, etc.
In 1981 Mrs. Gro Harlem Brundtland rose to the position of Prime
Minister and leader of the Social Democrates. She dominated the
political scene in our country for a number of years, together with
a considerable number of female politicians in all political parties,
irrespective of their ideological basis.
From the outset, however, it is fair to say that the social democrates
were leading the way in the building of Norways social
Level of Child Supports
The level of Child Support Payments from the other partner is set
by the public authorities. It will as a general rule, amount to
a percentage of his or her income. Basically, he or she must pay
11 percent for the first child, 18 percent for two children and
24 percent for three children.
When I separated from my husband in Luxembourg, I was not under
Norwegian jurisdiction - unfortunately. Irrespective of the maintenance
payers income and payments, the Norwegians may apply for child
support advances from the local insurance office. This will at least
provide the single parent with some level of support if the other
partner refuses to pay.
I would like to mention that a girlfriend of mine is paying maintenance
to her ex-husband since he is taking care of their child. This is
quite unusual in Norway but it gives a practical example of gender
equality. A parents obligation to pay support normally ceases
when the child reaches the age of 18.
My own Background
I would say the actual figures for the various allowances and benefits
in Norway would probably be difficult to compare to your own system
here in Japan. But what is extremely important, is that we are aware
of our opportunities and that we have a real choice concerning what
we want to do in our lives, and how we want to do it.
Economic support provides us with different alternatives and a degree
of independency. This was very important to me when I chose to leave
Luxembourg and move back to Norway with my three children.
© Copyright 2001 - Bodil Krogh
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