The Importance of Women for a Peaceful Society
Last March, during the 2013 Nobel Peace Prize Forum, a common theme we heard was the importance of giving women equal opportunity and how this plays into peace making. As Malcolm Potts said, “It is women that hold the key to peace.” Living in Norway I can now see just how true that is. Norway is recognized worldwide as a peace nation and from observation I am beginning to believe that this has a lot to do with the level of gender equality found here.
On one of the few sunny days here in Oslo, the streets are packed with people. A particular group of people out and about in downtown Oslo are the many men passing by with baby strollers or in parks playing with their children. A common reaction by many of the international students here has been, “you don’t see something like that back home.” One of the main reasons for this phenomenon is Norway’s policy on parental leave. Norwegian parents have the option of 46 weeks of leave with 100 % pay or 56 weeks leave with 80 % pay. This time can be divided between the parents as they choose, but at least 10 weeks must be taken by the father or else those weeks will be forfeited.
Why this is important in promoting gender equality is firstly that Norwegian women can begin a career knowing that if and when they decide to have child, they will be able to spend essential time with that child. It makes it much more possible for women to play an active role in society. Also, the fact that the fathers receive parental leave, and are even required to do so, means that the men play a much larger role in their children’s upbringing and most likely even after the parental leave has been used up. This is an opportunity for women to fulfill other roles outside of the home.
This is just one example of Norway’s efforts to improve gender equality Malcolm Potts proposed in his presentation at the Nobel Peace Prize Forum that it is not humanity as a whole who is to blame for the many wars this world has experienced, but specifically men. Women lack the high testosterone levels that often lead men to group violence. He also noted that as women achieved more equality, so did the world become a much more peaceful place. I would therefore speculate that the correlation between Norway’s prominent role in peace making and considerably low rate of violence are very much related with the outstanding level of gender equality.