4th Dec 2023

Nordic women in majority as the eight parliaments meet in Oslo

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Members of the Norwegian parliament, the Stortinget, will this week be evicted from their seats.

Instead, the chamber will be filled by 87 members of the national parliaments of Finland, Iceland, Sweden, Norway, Denmark, the Faeroe Islands, Greenland and Åland, who are gathering for the annual Nordic Council session.

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  • The Nordic parliament's annual session is held in rotation, with Norway's parliament, the Stortinget, hosting it this year (Photo: Lennart Perlenhem/

The Nordic Council overall mirrors the actual political composition of the Nordic parliaments.

Judging from photos and names of the delegates there will be a majority (54 percent) of women participating in this 2023 session.

Only two parliaments in the world have more than 50 percent female representation, Rwanda (61 percent) and Bolivia (53 percent), according to World Bank statistics for 2022.

"Nordic countries are known for their work for equal rights and representation, and this is also reflected when nominating delegates for the Nordic council. I am convinced that having a good balance of men and women increases the quality of the discussions and provides a broader view on matters, thereby leading to better decisions", chair for the conservative delegation to the Nordic Council, Norwegian MP Helge Orten told EUobserver.

"I am delighted that we are very many women. It is difficult to create the balance because the Nordic parliament gets new members every time there has been an election in one of the eight countries", chairman of the Social Democrat group, Danish MP Annette Lind, said.

"There are also many female ministers now, which is great. When talk is about war, it is good to have women present," she added.

Members are divided into political groups, with currently the Social Democrats being the largest (26 members), followed by Centre (20), Conservative (16), Nordic Green/Left (11), Nordic Freedom (9) and five members not attached to any political group.

Each of the five political groups has a majority of woman in this year's session, which will be the 75th since the Nordic Council was founded in 1952.

Formally, the body has no power but it can issue recommendations to the member states.

Due to similarities in culture, language and social structures, this Nordic cooperation — without wielding any hard power — has contributed to a very positive development of Nordic societies over the past 60 years.

It has slowly turned the Nordic region into the 12th largest economy in the world — despite just 28 million people living there.

Stoltenberg speaking

Security is a top theme this year with Nato secretary general, Jens Stoltenberg addressing the assembly on Tuesday (31 October).

Norway, Iceland and Denmark were among the founding members of Nato in the aftermath of World War Two (in 1949), while Finland and Sweden turned to non-alignment during the Cold War.

But following Russia's invasion of Ukraine in February 2022, Finland and Sweden applied for membership of Nato.

Finland became a Nato member on 4 April 2023, while Hungary is the only Nato member still stalling on admitting Sweden after Turkey lifted reservations last week.

Finland and Sweden did not ask for any preconditions prior to joining Nato — such as hosting nuclear bases or weapons.

A proposal for a Nordic nuclear weapon-free zone will, however, be discussed in the plenary on Wednesday (1 November).

Five such zones exist today in the world, with four of them spanning almost all countries south of the equator.

Back in 2018 the Nordic Council recommended "Nordic governments to continue to coordinate their efforts for a global disarmament of nuclear weapons". Now the Green-Left group want to take it one step further.

Green agenda falling behind

By tradition all Nordic prime ministers will be present for a joint debate with the parliamentarians on Tuesday (31 October), also called the Nordic Summit.

A few years back all Nordic countries had social-democrat prime ministers, but the political winds have changed, with Sweden and Finland now led by conservative prime ministers. Denmark and Norway still have social democrat leaders, while Greenland and Iceland have left-green premiers.

In Reykjavik the Nordic regions longest-reigning prime minister, Katrín Jakobsdóttir, sits, who has held the position since 2017.

Under the Icelandic presidency n 2019, it was agreed to make the region the most sustainable and integrated one in the world by 2030.

The idea is to align all future policies with the overall climate target and more resources have been moved to the climate and environment agenda in recent years.

"We are about halfway through, with evaluations showing that the green ambitions may be lagging behind a little bit. We have to step up that part", Social Democrat group chair, Annette Lind, said.

Culture is a priority

No Nordic Council session is ever held without a healthy dose of culture. The Nordic Council each year hands out five awards in recognition of Nordic literature, film, music, environmental innovation and childrens' literature.

The awards will be announced at a prestigious gala evening in presence of the prime ministers in Oslo's Opera House on Tuesday evening (31 October).

The five winners each receive "Nordlys" statuettes and €40,000 — which is around tree times more than a Pulitzer prize winner scoops. But the Nordic winners will be obliged to pay taxes on the awards.

In total, the Nordic cooperation cost member states €138m in 2024 — of which almost 15 percent is set aside for culture, the third-biggest single slot in the draft budget.


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