by Genny Boots, News Writer

Cathrine Sandnes, a Norwegian journalist and editor, proposed a new idea in front of a crowd of Lutes on Monday night: has equality gone too far?
Sandnes presented “Why Norwegian Women Can Have it All” as the speaker for the Harstad Memorial Lecture. Bjug Harstad’s descendants and other donators fund the annual lecture series.

Sandnes’ lecture focused on maternity and paternity leave in Norway, the balance of work with family life and how roles of both men and women have changed within Norwegian culture.

The Norwegian approach to parental leave has been lauded as one of the best systems in Europe and worldwide.

Students and community members were treated to snacks and refreshments at the Annual Harstad lecture. Photo Credit: Genny Boots
Students and community members were treated to snacks and refreshments at the Annual Harstad lecture. Photo Credit: Genny Boots

In Norway, both women and men receive three months of paid work leave, and then can split up additional leave time for a maximum of twelve months. There is also thirty minutes set aside each workday for a woman to nurse her child.

alancing the work life and family, audience member Christy Olsen-Field said “The Norwegians have a lot of things that make sense.”
However, Norway 40 years ago was very different. Sandnes spoke about the differences her mother experienced

“It was the wife who had responsibility for the home” Sandnes said. “Now we ask when will it be acceptable to be a stay-at-home mom?”
The drastic shift in ideology has taken the notion of equality to what Sandnes outlined as “strengthening men’s rights to parenthood and women’s rights to work life.”

Sandnes has experienced firsthand the parental leave programs in Norway. She is the mother of two children with a long professional career as a journalist and editor, and is a national karate champion.

Overall, the response was positive Senior Emily Mansfield said.

“I thought it was really good. I came with my gender and society class and we were just discussing parental leave policies around the world and it was interesting to get perspective from Norway,” Mansfield said.

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