MPs in the Storting Chamber, October 1965. Elisabeth Schweigaard Selmer, Norway’s first female Minister of Justice is sitting in the front row. Photo: Johan Brun / Norsk Folkemuseum.

MPs in the Storting Chamber, October 1965. Elisabeth Schweigaard Selmer, Norway’s first female Minister of Justice is sitting in the front row. Photo: Johan Brun / Norsk Folkemuseum.

Women in positions of power

The story of female representation in the Storting is about small steps on the road to major change. At the 2021 parliamentary election, 76 women were elected to the Storting. This equates to almost 45% of the total, a historic high in this country.

The first woman to serve as a Member of Parliament (MP) in the Storting was Anna Rogstad. She took her seat as a Substitute MP for the Liberal Left Party in 1911. This was a mere four years after a limited number of women, those of a certain means or income, had been given the vote at parliamentary elections. One consequence of the change was that women were now also eligible to stand for election to the Storting. This enabled Anna Rogstad to take her seat as an MP two years before universal female suffrage was adopted in 1913. It took a further 11 years until the architect Karen Platou from the Conservative Party was to become the first regular female MP.
 
 
After peace returned to Europe in 1945, the proportion of women in the Storting slowly rose. However, it was during the 1970s that this trend gathered pace. Women gradually took on important parliamentary offices in the post-war years. From the mid-1970s, woman also rose to key leadership positions in the political parties.
 
NB: All personal biographies beneath are currently in Norwegian only.

Last updated: 16.11.2021 13:56 


Anna Rogstad

Anna Rogstad

Anna Rogstad first appeared in the Storting as a Substitute MP for the Liberal Left Party in 1911. This was two years before the introduction of universal female suffrage. Rogstad thus became the first woman to take her seat in the Storting.

Karen Platou

In 1921, Karen Platou was the first woman to be elected to the Storting as a regular MP. She represented the Conservative Party and was a member of the Justice Committee. Platou first took her seat in the Storting as a Substitute MP in 1920.

Kirsten Hansteen

Kirsten Hansteen

The first female cabinet minister was appointed in 1945. Kirsten Hansteen from the Norwegian Communist Party (NKP) was part of Einar Gerhardsen’s coalition government. It was only now, in the post-war years, that there was a real increase in women’s representation in the Storting.

Claudia Olsen

Claudia Olsen

In 1945, Claudia Olsen (Conservative Party) became the first female chair of one of the Storting’s standing committees. She was chair (or “chairman”, as was then the form of address) of the Health Committee until 1949, before becoming the vice chair of the Social Affairs Committee for three parliamentary terms.

Magnhild Hagelia

Magnhild Hagelia

In 1961, Magnhild Hagelia (Labour Party) was the first woman to be elected as a Vice President of the Storting. In this connection, a letter from the Presidium stated that she, and other female Presidents, should be addressed as “Honourable President”.

Aase Lionæs

Aase Lionæs (Labour Party) was elected as Vice President of the Lagting in 1965. She consequently became the first female member of the Storting’s Presidium.

Torild Skard

Torild Skard

From 1973 to 1977, Torild Skard (Socialist Electoral League) was the President of the Lagting. This made her the first female President of any of the Storting’s chambers.

Eva Kolstad

Eva Kolstad

Eva Kolstad (Liberal Party) was elected as the first female leader of an established political party in 1974.

Hanna Kvanmo

Hanna Kvanmo

In 1977, Hanna Kvanmo (Socialist Left Party) became Norway’s first female parliamentary leader.

Gro Harlem Brundtland

Gro Harlem Brundtland

Gro Harlem Brundtland (Labour Party) became Norway’s first female Prime Minister when she formed her government in 1981.

Åshild Hauan

Åshild Hauan

Åshild Hauan (Labour Party) was elected as the first female President of the Odelsting in 1985.

Kirsti Kolle Grøndahl

Kirsti Kolle Grøndahl

In 1993, Kirsti Kolle Grøndahl (Labour Party) was elected as the first female President of the Storting.