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Legislation in Norway requires that large companies have at least a 40 percent representation of both genders. The Gender Equality Act, first enacted in 1978, prohibits all discrimination on the grounds of gender. Arguably, Norway’s generous parental leave and benefits policies are what allows is citizens to maintain a steady birth rate while also enjoying economic prosperity. After each birth, parents are entitled to 54 weeks of leave at 80 percent pay or 44 weeks at 100 percent; each couple can decide how they will divide up this time, though the weeks prior to and immediately following the birth are reserved for the mother and six weeks of leave is reserved for the father’s use. Parents of young children are also entitled to flexible working hours.

In the Statement on the Commission on the Status of Women in March 2009, Norwegian legislators deemed their progressive equality laws “investments for the future,” because they improve the country’s economic competitive edge by increasing the productivity and skills of both genders. They also improve society on a family-by-family basis: as fathers and mothers are given more time to spend with their young children and there is more equality in the household, there is less chance of divorce and domestic violence.

Knudsen, Emily. “Gender-equality Laws in Scandinavia.” Worldchanging. Ed. Alex Steffen. New York: Abrams, 2011. pp. 266.

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