Norway: Torild Skard retires as NKF President, Margunn Bjørnholt elected as successor

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Newly elected NKF President Margunn Bjørnholt with outgoing President Torild Skard
Newly elected NKF President Margunn Bjørnholt with outgoing President Torild Skard

Torild Skard, who has served as President of IAW’s Norwegian affiliate, the Norwegian Association for Women’s Rights (NKF), since 2006, retired at the national convention in May this year and was simultaneously named an honorary member. IAW board member Margunn Bjørnholt was elected as the new President.

Torild Skard has been a highly visible leader of NKF for the past eight years, contributing strongly to setting topics such as the situation of children and parents, women’s political participation and the history of women’s suffrage on the agenda. NKF has also actively participated in key legislative processes in Norway during her tenure, and as recently as this year was successful in getting the parliamentary majority to propose an amendment to the constitution specifically mentioning Norway’s responsibilities under the CEDAW convention.

Torild Skard as Chairman of the UNICEF Executive Board
Torild Skard as Chairman of the UNICEF Executive Board

Torild Skard served as a Member of Parliament in Norway as well as the first female President of its upper chamber from 1973 to 1977. She was Director for Questions relating to the Status of Women at UNESCO 1984–1986, served as Chairman of the UNICEF Executive Board 1988–1989 and as UNICEF Regional Director for West and Central Africa 1994–1999, responsible for directing UNICEF’s work in 23 countries. In Norway she has served as Director-General for Development Cooperation and as Deputy Permanent Secretary at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. After retiring from the Foreign Ministry in 2003, she was a senior researcher at the Norwegian Institute of International Affairs.

Torild Skard has written many books and articles. After returning from Africa, she published the book Continent of Mothers, Continent of Hope: Understanding and Promoting Development in Africa Today, which has been translated into several languages. In 2014, her most recent book, Women of Power: Half a Century of Female Presidents and Prime Ministers Worldwide, was published by Policy Press. She was named a commander of the Ordre national du Lion of Senegal in 1998 and a commander of the Order of St. Olav in 2012 for her “efforts to promote women’s and children’s rights.”

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