Duty of authorities to promote equality in education

Authorities, education providers and other communities offering education or tuition must promote gender equality in a purposeful and planned manner in all their activities.

It is the education provider's responsibility to make sure that all educational institutions under its administration carry out purposeful and planned work to promote gender equality. It is the responsibility of the education provider to ensure that the educational institutions are promoting equality according to the institution-specific equality plan.

Promoting equality in education and training

Authorities and organisers of education must make sure that girls and boys and women and men have equal opportunities to education and professional development and that teaching, research and learning material support the implementation of the purpose of this law.

This means that tuition or teaching materials cannot be used to create or maintain prejudices or gender roles and divisions relating to stereotypical views on family and working life. In this regard, the obligation to promote equality particularly applies to the authorities who are in charge of the basic outlines of education and developing education, which also includes teachers.

Attempts are to be made in all aspects of education to unravel ways of thinking and acting which lead to a formulaic choice of training and vocation according to one's gender. This obligation applies to all school types and levels, but in particular to student counselling and career guidance. Teacher training must emphasise how school customs and the teachers' actions affect students' views on occupations and fields which are suitable for girls and boys and for women and men.

Choices of education and careers which are based on traditional gender roles may uphold inequality in the labour market and limit the individual's freedom of choice. This is why choices related to studies should be based on individual factors, not gender. Students must be encouraged to choose subjects according to their own interests and advantages. Women must have equal opportunities to be selected to study in a field that traditionally has been considered more suitable for men, and men, respectively, must be offered equal opportunities to be selected to study in a field that traditionally has been considered more suitable for women.

Consequences for neglecting equality planning

If an education provider neglects their responsibility to ensure that the educational institutions that are under its administration carry out planned equality-promoting work according to the institution-specific equality plan, then the Ombudsman for Equality must strive to ensure, through instructions and advice, that the education provider fulfils its responsibilities. If the education provider neglects their responsibility in spite of instructions and advice, the Ombudsman can set a reasonable deadline by which the obligation must be fulfilled.

If the plan is not drafted by the deadline, the Ombudsman can bring the matter before the National Non-Discrimination and Equality Tribunal. The Tribunal can impose an obligation on the education provider and the educational institution to prepare an equality plan within a defined period, under threat of a fine if necessary. If the education provider and the educational institution still neglect the equality plan, the Tribunal will enforce the fine.