Thursday, May 30, 2024

Mina Gerhardsen believes that political experience is a strength as a children’s representative

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Mina Gerhardsen is the new children’s representative. Photo: Heiko Junge / NTB

Of NTB | 05/03/2024 15:04:56

Policy: Gerhardsen was appointed on Friday to take over as children’s representative. She starts the job in August.

The 48-year-old was the first choice, declared Minister for Children and Families Kjersti Toppe (Sp) when she announced the election. Toppe does not specifically point out why Gerhardsen was the favourite, but says it was about the overall picture.

– It was an overall assessment based on background, experience and competence, but also how she appears to be able to fulfill the role of ombudsman – be visible and be a driving force, says Toppe.

Gerhardsen tapped several well-known names on the applicant list, such as psychologist specialist and author Nadia Ansar, who is married to parliamentary representative Abid Raja (V) and former Minister for Children and Families Inga Marte Thorkildsen (SV).

Her family background is also closely linked to Ap. Gerhardsen is the grandson of Prime Minister Einar Gerhardsen, often referred to as the father of the country. His father Rune Gerhardsen was a city council leader and his mother Tove Strand has been a cabinet minister.

Opposite Television 2 Gerhardsen will not answer whether she is still a member of the Labor Party.

– It’s a bit of a personal question, isn’t it? So I won’t answer that.

– No, says Gerhardsen.

– I have worked a lot in the voluntary sector, which is all about being a watchdog and driving force, and something I think also has value for this job. And then I have a political background that gives insight into how governance and care takes place, says Gerhardsen to NTB.

When asked whether she was asked to apply or whether the initiative came from herself, she replies that she spoke to someone beforehand to get advice, but will not elaborate.

Toppe says she has not asked Gerhardsen to apply. Nor does she know of anyone who has made any advances on that occasion.

– This is not a political appointment. We are getting a children’s ombudsman who is very competent, and who will work for the rights of children and young people in a very good way. I am very confident of that, she says to NTB.

– This is a dream job. Although I have a very exciting job, I couldn’t let this go, she says.

She has become involved in public health issues and has, among other things, been a keen campaigner for introducing free school meals. One of the first things she wants to tackle as children’s ombudsman is prevention. This applies both in mental health, outsiders and the fight against increased inequalities.

Although Norway is considered a good country to grow up in, there is also much left to be done, she believes.

– We have several negative health trends that affect the health of children and young people, both physical and psychological, and the figures we are now seeing about increasing violence and crime among children and young people are worrying.

Gerhardsen remembers well from his own childhood when Målfrid Grude Flekkøy and later Trond-Viggo Torgersen had the job.

– I knew they were at work for me and for other children. It was a nice feeling, she says.

The children’s ombudsman is appointed for a period of six years.

Gerhardsen has a long career in the Labor Party, including as political adviser and state secretary to Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg.

She emphasizes that her previous involvement in party politics is so far back in time that it does not constitute a topic today. Rather, she highlights it as an advantage.

Today, Gerhardsen is secretary general of the National Association for Public Health, where she has worked since 2019. Before that, she worked in the drug field’s collaborative organization Actis and in Norad.

Gerhardsen is the seventh children’s ombudsman in Norway and takes over from Inga Bejer Engh, who is now assistant chief of the Police Security Service (PST).

(© NTB)

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