Norwegian Association for Women's Rights

Norwegian women's and girls' rights organization

The Norwegian Association for Women's Rights (Norwegian: Norsk Kvinnesaksforening; NKF) is Norway's oldest and preeminent women's and girls' rights organization. Founded in 1884, NKF is Norway's oldest political organization after the Liberal Party and one of the world's oldest women's rights organizations. NKF stands for an inclusive and progressive liberal feminism and works "to promote gender equality and women's and girls' human rights through political and legal reform within the framework of liberal democracy". NKF aims to represent the interests of all people who identify as women and girls, and has had a central role in the adoption of all major gender equality legislation and reforms since 1884. In line with its liberal feminist stance, NKF views the struggle for women's rights as identical with the struggle for gender equality, the association's overarching aim. Like its sister organizations such as the Danish Women's Society and the Icelandic Women's Rights Association NKF takes an intersectional approach to discrimination and also supports legal protections against discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, gender identity and gender expression. NKF has always been open to all people regardless of gender, and several of the association's early leaders were men. It consists of a national-level association as well as regional chapters based in the larger cities, and is led by a national-level executive board.NKF was founded on the initiative of Gina Krog and Hagbart Berner by 171 prominent women and men of the progressive liberal establishment, including five Norwegian Prime Ministers, and was modeled after the predecessors of the League of Women Voters in the U.S. Its basic principle is that full and equal enjoyment of human rights is due to all women and girls, and it works to advance women's political, social and economic rights in Norway and internationally. From the early years the association worked to bring women into the political mainstream. Traditionally the most important association of the Norwegian bourgeois-liberal women's movement and historically associated with the Liberal Party, NKF is today a big tent coalition with members from the centre-left to the centre-right. The association has always been Norway's most important liberal (or mainstream) feminist organization and has successfully campaigned for women’s right to education, the right to vote, the right to work, the adoption of the 1978 Gender Equality Act, and the establishment of what is now the Gender Equality and Anti-Discrimination Ombud. At the behest of NKF, Norway became the world's first independent country to introduce women's suffrage in 1913. In line with its roots in 19th century first-wave liberal feminism, political and legal reform remains its primary focus, and it has always concentrated on lobbying government bodies in a professional way. As a result of its focus on legal reform, the association has always attracted many lawyers and other academics. NKF members had key roles in developing the government apparatus and legislation related to gender equality in Norway; during the 1970s, the "Norwegian government adopted NKF's [equality] ideology as its own", and NKF's feminist tradition has been described as Norway's state feminism—a term coined by NKF member Helga Hernes—due to the governmental support it enjoyed. Starting with the presidency of Eva Kolstad, from 1956, NKF focused strongly on the United Nations, and NKF members have been appointed to key UN bodies including UNCSW and the CEDAW Committee; the CEDAW convention remains an important focus of NKF. In 2020, Professor Anne Hege Grung was elected President in succession to Supreme Court Justice Karin M. Bruzelius. NKF is a member of the International Alliance of Women (IAW), which has general consultative status to the United Nations Economic and Social Council and participatory status with the Council of Europe. NKF is also a member of the Norwegian Women's Lobby and of the Forum for Women and Development, and NKF initiated the establishment of both organizations. In 1896, NKF also founded the Norwegian Women's Public Health Association, a humanitarian organization whose membership reached 250,000. Several of NKF's early leaders, among them the noted humanitarian Fredrikke Marie Qvam, were married to Norwegian prime ministers. Its postwar leaders include Liberal Party leader and cabinet minister Eva Kolstad and the former chairman of UNICEF, Torild Skard. Its honorary members include Camilla Collett and Norway's first female Prime Minister Gro Harlem Brundtland. NKF's offices are located at Majorstuen in Oslo. NKF's logo is a stylized sunflower, adopted in 1894, based on the model of the liberal American suffrage movement.
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