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Women in politics in the Nordic countries - Statistics & Facts

Concerning gender equality, Scandinavia is often praised for leading the way towards greater equality between women and men in different fields. Historically, the Nordic countries consisting of Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Finland and Iceland, were indeed the vanguard of representing women in political institutions. To this day, most of the Nordics continue to dominate rankings on gender equality. As of 2021, Iceland, Norway, Finland and Sweden were leading the global gender gap index; an index which takes national gender gaps on political, economic, educational and health-based criteria into consideration.

While the Nordic countries generally perform well when measuring gender equality in politics, they differ on some interesting touchpoints. As of November 2021, four out of five prime ministers in the Nordic countries were women. When Finland's prime minister Sanna Marin took office in 2019, she was the youngest prime minister in the world at 34. Moreover, over 40 percent of the parliamentarians in the Nordic countries except Denmark are women. However, none of them have managed to reach the 50 percent mark yet.

Denmark as an outlier

Apart from not making the top-five on the global gender gap index, Denmark falls behind on other important parameters. Denmark is the only Nordic country which never had more than 40 percent of women in parliament. Moreover, with around 34 percent, the share of female candidates in parliamentary elections is furthermore remarkably lower than in other Nordic countries. Hence, Denmark continues having a gender gap in politics. According to Danish politicians, the extent of harassment and threats are more common among women. In 2019, over 20 percent of the female politicians in the country have experienced sexual harassment online, and 20 percent stated that the latest harassment was related to their female gender.

Gender (in)equality in the Nordics

When compared to other European countries, sexual harassment against women is not uncommon in Scandinavia. To the contrary, women in Sweden and Denmark actually experience some of the highest levels of unwanted sexual attention in Europe. Many experts believe that this is connected to a lower threshold of reporting in the Nordic countries compared to several other European countries. However, it has also been suggested that the high levels of sexual violence in the Nordic countries is related to gender emancipation, the theory being that this leads to higher conflict levels between pairs. The high levels of sexual violence in the Nordic countries in spite of their status as gender equal countries has been called the Nordic paradox.

Even though the gender pay gap in the Nordic countries is around the EU average, the gender pay gap is almost non-existent among politicians in the Nordic countries. For instance, women in central government positions in Sweden earn roughly the same as men in the same positions, and in Iceland, female senior government officials even earn more than their male counterparts. Furthermore, the Nordic countries are considered the best to work in for women in the world, with Sweden ranking highest. Female unemployment rates are also low in the Nordic countries.

Interesting statistics

In the following 6 chapters, you will quickly find the 26 most important statistics relating to "Women in politics in the Nordic countries".

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