33. The levels of capacity, quality and interdisciplinary cooperation on analysis and research related to persons with disabilities have been strengthened. Research tasks and studies of universal design aimed at clarifying quality levels, costs, cost-benefit analyses, socio-economic analyses and assessments of the contribution of universal design to social and economic sustainability. A designated funding scheme has been established for knowledge development, competence building and information in the area of universal design. Annual funding amounts to around NOK 7.5 million. Funds are also granted for targeted information, research and development programmes/projects aimed at improving conditions for persons with disabilities.
34. When preparing legislation that imposes duties on the municipal and county authorities, national considerations and local democracy must be taken into account. The block grant system is a key principle underlying central government administration of the municipal sector. The block grant system is a prerequisite for ensuring that municipal and county authorities have real scope for action, enabling them to function as local democracies that can make local and individual adaptations to services and to decide their own priorities for local development in the best interests of those living there. At the same time, central government has a legitimate need to manage the municipalities and county municipalities, and to do so in ways that limit their scope of action. It is accepted that since the municipalities perform important welfare tasks on behalf of the state, central government must set criteria for the municipal undertaking. Assessment of the use of central government instruments must be weighed against the interests of municipal scope of action.
Prohibition against discrimination
35. Article 98 of the Constitution stipulates that all people are equal under the law and that no human being must be subject to unfair or disproportionate differential treatment. The Anti-Discrimination and Accessibility Act also prohibits both direct and indirect discrimination based on disability (see also Article 4). The prohibition against indirect discrimination implies a general duty to take individual considerations into account and a certain duty to ensure reasonable accommodation for individual capabilities. The Act also contains other, more detailed provisions governing the duty to provide individual accommodation. Norwegian legislation in general contains a number of rules regarding general and individual accommodation and assistance. Under Norwegian law, differential treatment is permitted if such treatment has a legitimate objective, is necessary to achieve this objective, and does not have a disproportionately negative effect on the person involved.
36. The Government is currently preparing a new gender equality and anti-discrimination act covering all discrimination grounds. The Government wishes to strengthen statutory protection against discrimination. It is important that a combined act retains the elements of the anti-discrimination legislation that are particularly relevant for persons with disabilities, such as the duty to ensure universal design and individual accommodation. The draft act is expected to be published for broad-based consultation this year.
Article 6 Women with disabilities
37. Norway is regularly nominated as one of the most gender-equal countries in the world. Men and women participate in working life on an equal footing and to more or less the same extent. Protection under the law, generous welfare schemes, and generally accepted values which support the idea that no-one should be discriminated against on the basis of gender all contribute towards genuine gender equality. The UN Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women has been incorporated into Norwegian law.
38. The Directorate for Children, Youth and Family Affairs is responsible for collecting, systematising and developing knowledge about the living conditions and life circumstances of persons with disabilities. Once systematised, this knowledge will be broken down by gender as far as possible. This means that any gender disparities – including those among persons with disabilities – can be monitored over time and analysed. Sample surveys show that around 5 percentage points more women than men have disabilities, according to standard definitions.
39. National statistics from Statistics Norway's Labour Force Survey (see also Article 31), a quarterly survey of developments in employment and unemployment and of different population groups' connection with the labour market, show that women with disabilities generally have a weaker connection with the labour market than do men with disabilities. Around 60 per cent of women with disabilities who participate in working life have part-time positions, while around 25 per cent of men with disabilities have part-time positions. Furthermore, research conducted by NTNU Samfunnsforskning (NTNU Social Research) indicates that mothers of children with disabilities more often work part-time than other mothers and far more than fathers in the same situation.
40. All children are independent holders of rights. Under Article 104 of the Constitution, children have the right to respect for their human dignity. They have the right to be heard in questions that concern them, and due weight must be attached to their views according to their age and development. When taking a course of action and making decisions concerning a child, the best interests of the child must be a fundamental consideration.
41. Moreover, the child has a statutory right to protection of personal integrity. The authorities of the state must create conditions that facilitate the child’s development. Among other things, this means that the state must ensure that children are provided with the necessary economic, social and health security, preferably within their own family. The UN Convention on the Rights of the Child has been incorporated into Norwegian law in the form of the Human Rights Act and will therefore take precedence over other laws in the event of conflict.
42. The Patients’ Rights Act contains separate provisions governing children's rights. These provisions apply to all children, including those with disabilities. As a general rule, children are entitled to be accompanied by at least one parent or other person with parental responsibility during stays in a healthcare institution. Children are also entitled to be kept active and stimulated during stays in a healthcare institution. Such activities must take the capabilities and needs of the individual child into account. The Act also stipulates that children may act as a party in a case and exercise their rights as party to a case if they have turned 12 and understand what the case is about.
43. In recent years, the authorities have focused on the situation for children and young people with disabilities in school and in their leisure time. Several research studies show that children with disabilities who are removed from mainstream education tend to be less active in social arenas during leisure time. Moreover, new knowledge has emerged about the situation of families with one or more children with disabilities.
44. As part of the Government's efforts to comply with the intention expressed in the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, entitlement to respite services for parents of children with severe disabilities was incorporated into the statutory right to receive user-controlled personal assistance (UPA). This was done to help facilitate more active and independent living for these children and their families.
45. The Directorate of Health has prepared a booklet entitled ‘Children and young people with disabilities – what rights does the family have?’ Children and young people with special needs and their families often require services that are provided by different institutions and agencies. This booklet is intended to make it easier for them to find what they are looking for, and tells the story of Gina, who was born with a disability. It presents information on the rights she and her family have from the time she is born until she is around 20 years old, and on where her family can seek help. The English-language version is available here: English.