Women take 'top 3 spots' in Norway govt

(From left) Norwegian Prime Minister Erna Solberg walks with newly-appointed Minister for EEA and EU Affairs, Marit Berger Rosland; Minister of Defence Frank Bakke-Jensen and Foreign Affairs Minister Ine Eriksen Soreide on Oct 20, 2017 outside the Norwegian Castle. PHOTO: AFP

OSLO (AFP) - Norwegian Prime Minister Erna Solberg on Friday (Oct 20) announced a Cabinet reshuffle putting women in "the top three spots" of government.

Defense Minister Ine Eriksen Soreide was named the country's new foreign minister to replace her male colleague Borge Brende, who is stepping down to take over as president of the World Economic Forum.

Soreide, 41, is the first woman to become the top diplomat in NATO member Norway.

She joins Solberg and Finance Minister Siv Jensen in holding "the top three spots" in the right-wing government, according to the expression used by Norwegian media.

"We're not the first in the world but it is a page in Norway's history that is being written," Solberg said at a press conference.

The Philippines, Switzerland and Liberia have already had such a constellation, she noted.

Like its Scandinavian neighbours, Norway is a pioneer when it comes to gender equality: back in 1986, the Labour government of female prime minister Gro Harlem Brundtland had almost as many women cabinet members as men, with eight out of 18.

Solberg also announced that Frank Bakke-Jensen would be taking over as defense minister, while his European affairs portfolio would be handed to newcomer Marit Berger Rosland - a woman.

In power since 2013, the right-wing won a narrow victory in legislative elections on September 11.

According to Norwegian media, Solberg could announce another government reshuffle by the end of the year if the small centre-right Liberal Party joins the minority coalition, currently made up of Solberg's Conservatives and Jensen's anti-immigration Progress Party.

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