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Last Updated: Friday, 13 June, 2003, 18:17 GMT 19:17 UK
Oslo push for women directors
Oslo harbour
Corporate Oslo: Yielding to girl power?
The Norwegian government on Friday backed a draft law which would oblige companies to appoint women to at least 40% of their directorships.

It sets a deadline of summer 2005 for private sector firms to comply voluntarily, while state-owned firms have until 2004.

Norway's regulatory authorities would withhold recognition of the boards of companies that do not fall into line.

If the proposal comes into force, Norway would become the first country in the world to change the law so as to boost women's presence in corporate boardrooms.

But it remains to be seen whether the proposal, which has been hailed by women's rights groups worldwide, will ever make it onto the statute books.

It has yet to gain the approval of the full Norwegian parliament, where the government is in a minority position.

And business groups have spoken out against the proposal, saying it would impose an onerous 'quota' system on companies without truly advancing the cause of women's equality.

Norwegian Children and Family Affairs Minister Laila Daavoey, who initiated the bill last year, shies away from the word quota, preferring to call it "a proposal for greater diversity."

"It is not a lack of competence which has led to women's under-representation. Almost 60% of university students are women," she said.

Currently, only 7% of Norwegian corporate board members are women, she added.


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