The vulnerability approach: A way of bridging the equality–difference dilemma?

Margunn Bjørnholt

The Scandinavian welfare states are to a large extent responsive to their citizens’ vulnerabilities and needs, and with the ample support of working parents and their children, these states have to some extent neutralised the gendered effects of the public-private divide. Nevertheless, there has been a lack of responsiveness to the consequences of gendered life courses. Over the last decades there has been an increased emphasis on the idea of equality as sameness between men and women as the main aim and strategy, as well as a measure of gender equality. Arguments about difference have more or less disappeared from the discourses and policies of gender equality. This paper will apply the vulnerability approach to gender equality in the Norwegian context, and discuss whether this approach could be a way of reconceptualising gender equality in a way that acknowledges both difference and sameness.

Bjørnholt, Margunn (2013). The vulnerability approach: A way of bridging the equality– difference dilemma? Retfærd: Nordic Journal of Law and Justice, Vol. 36, No. 3, pp. 25–44.