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Open Call about Welfare Resilience

Photo by Klaus Nielsen/Pexels


The financial crisis, pandemic, war, environmental and climate threats of recent years show that the global risk scenario can evolve rapidly and that the threats to our societies are complex. Strengthening citizens’ conditions for good health is central to coping with future crises. At the same time, in the welfare sector, health care faces major challenges.

Lessons learnt from the pandemic showed that crisis management went hand in hand with knowledge development. Research therefore plays an important role in improving the conditions for welfare resilience. How can the Nordic Region develop welfare and welfare services based on important needs both today and in the future?

About the project

To stimulate a Nordic discussion on the resilience of welfare, the Nordic Council of Ministers has initiated this project, which is being carried out by NIKK. The goal of the project is to contribute knowledge to better understand and analyse challenges and opportunities for making decisions that strengthen crises preparedness and welfare resilience in the Nordic Region with a focus on health care from a gender perspective.

The project spans several areas of knowledge. The knowledge produced is of relevance to several sectors within the Nordic co-operation and therefore contributes to strengthening collaboration between both policy areas and actors active within them, as well as between researchers and other experts. The project will result in a publication of texts, received through this open call for proposals, and a seminar.

About the Open Call

These are complex issues that need to be addressed from several different perspectives. The project will therefore bring together experts from different parts of the Nordic Region. In a joint publication, they will highlight aspects of welfare health care in the Nordic Region, from a gender perspective, for good future preparedness.

In order to identify relevant perspectives, knowledge and research environments in the Nordic Region, an open call for proposals to participate with an exploratory text, an essay, is being conducted. The call is aimed at researchers with a doctoral degree and doctoral students who are active in the Nordic Region. The task of writing an essay is paid and the accepted researchers will be invited to a workshop in the start up phase of the writing process, to exchange knowledge, strengthen the Nordic network and enable synergies between the different texts.

New report sheds light on working life conditions for trans people in the Nordic region

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Trans people are a particularly vulnerable group and face various obstacles throughout their lives, not least in working life, where they experience worse conditions as a group than the majority population. At the same time, in recent years there have been setbacks in terms of the living conditions of LGBTI people in both the Nordic countries and globally, and trans people have been particularly hard hit. To increase knowledge of the working life conditions for trans people and the underlying factors that affect their employment, NIKK has summarised the field of knowledge in the Nordic countries in a new report. 


The knowledge review shows that many of the obstacles that trans people face in and around working life are based on restrictive norms, which are reflected in recruitment processes, work environments and opportunities for career development. Violating these rigid notions of gender often entails some form of punishment from the surrounding society, whether it is being eliminated from a recruitment process, being discriminated against or mistreated by colleagues and customers or being treated unprofessionally by a manager. Susanna Young Håkansson is an analyst at the Swedish Secretariat for Gender Research, where NIKK is located, and has written the knowledge review.

Various types of exclusionary processes, such as discrimination and transphobic environments, are common obstacles to a secure and fulfilling working life. This applies both to the search for a job and to the working environment in a workplace. These barriers can have serious consequences for trans people’s finances, quality of life and health. 

Susanna Young Håkansson, analyst

The findings from several of the reports show that the nature of an individual’s gender identity affects their experiences in the labour market. For example, trans women face more harassment and discrimination than trans men, both in the workplace and in recruitment processes. Age is another important factor – young trans people are often particularly vulnerable, and there is evidence that many trans people have a difficult start in the labour market. 

With the exception of one report, economic vulnerability is not explicitly addressed in the included material. However, based on what we learn about the overrepresentation of trans people in terms of unemployment, exposure to discrimination, including in recruitment, illnesses that affect an individual’s ability to work and poor employment conditions, such as insecure employment and low wages, the results of this knowledge review indicate that people in the trans group are more likely than those in the majority population to have difficulty earning a living and be at risk of or living in poverty and economic vulnerability. This is an example of areas where more Nordic knowledge is needed. 

Susanna Young Håkansson

European data shows that many trans people in the Nordic countries have difficulty coping financially and a significant proportion have experienced severe economic vulnerability. In the Nordic material, however, questions about working life conditions and finances are not linked to consequences in areas such as health, housing and other conditions for living a safe and decent life.  These are areas where more Nordic knowledge is needed.

The knowledge review was developed from literature on the working life conditions for trans people produced in the Nordic countries, as well as dialogues conducted with civil society organisations and labour market actors. Interviews have been conducted with representatives of civil society organisations in Greenland, the Faroe Islands and Åland to get a picture of the situations there. 

Key messages on older LGBTI people’s inter­actions with health and social care

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NIKK is now launching a publication that provides an introduction to the state of knowledge in the field of older LGBTI people’s living conditions and how researchers and other experts in the field describe urgent problems and knowledge gaps and identify actions required for change.


The publication summarises and provides an introduction to the state of knowledge in the field and how researchers and other experts describe problems and gaps in knowledge and identify actions required for change. It summarises the key messages from a high-level expert meeting held in connection with the launch of the Nordic report: “He went back into the closet”: Older LGBTI people’s interactions with health and social care in the Nordic countries.

The report’s title: “He went back into the closet” reflects the experiences of some older LGBTI people when they move into care homes where their needs are not properly met.

Key messages in selection

  • Trans care is negatively affected by the fact that trans people are still pathologised in all the Nordic countries.
  • There is a lack of research on health professionals in relation to LGBTI issues. More research is needed.
  • There is a need for more knowledge on the specific health problems and diseases of older LGBTI people
  • Better working conditions for health professionals lead to better care for LGBTI people.
  • Provide funding for research and educational materials on older LGBTI people.

50 years after the start of co-operation on gender equality, the Swedish Presidency is now focusing on the equal Nordic Region of tomorrow

This year marks 50 years since the Nordic Council of Ministers decided on co-operation between the Nordic governments on gender equality issues. Since then, the co-operation has developed and changed, and since 2020 it has also included the rights of LGBTI people. In 2024, Sweden holds the presidency of the Nordic Council of Ministers and is marking the 50th anniversary with targeted initiatives.


Paulina Brandberg is Sweden’s Minister for Gender Equality and leads the Nordic ministers’ co-operation on gender equality and LGBTI issues in 2024. She notes that gender equality is a core Nordic value and is particularly important at a time when resistance to gender equality and equal rights for LGBTI people is increasing.

“During Sweden’s presidency of the Nordic Council of Ministers in 2024, we will work to ensure that Nordic co-operation continues to be a strong voice in the defence of gender equality, the rights of women and girls, and equal rights for LGBTI people in the Nordic Region and beyond.”

Focus on anti-violence projects

During its presidency, Sweden will focus in particular on combating men’s violence against women, other violence in close relationships and honour-related violence and oppression. Minister for Gender Equality Paulina Brandberg hopes that new projects and collaborations will contribute to the acquisition of new knowledge and an active and mutual Nordic exchange of experience on these issues.

“Honour-related violence and oppression is a major social problem that violates and limits fundamental rights and freedoms. For me as Minister for Gender Equality, it is important that all victims receive the right support and protection, including LGBTI people. For this reason, Sweden is initiating a major Nordic study to map the work against honour-related violence in the Nordic Region in 2024-2025.”

Nordic presence on the international stage

During the UN Commission on the Status of Women in New York in March 2024, Sweden and the Nordic Council of Ministers hosted several Nordic events on economic equality and economic empowerment.

“Women and men should have equal power to shape society and their own lives. An important prerequisite for this is to increase economic equality. Economic equality is also central to the prevention of violence.”

Important initiatives in the LGBTI field

The working conditions of transgender people is one of the projects for which the Presidency has allocated special funds. Paulina Brandberg hopes that knowledge of the working conditions of trans people can be increased and highlighted through dialogue and exchange of experience between Nordic actors in the field, including through a Nordic conference in October.

“In the Nordic Region and internationally, working conditions for trans people as a group are worse than for the majority population. Several Nordic studies indicate that the unemployment rate for trans people is higher and they are also a group that is particularly vulnerable to discrimination, harassment and threats.”

Follow Nordic co-operation in the field of gender equality and LGBTI on the websites: www.norden.org and www.nikk.no and on NIKK’s Facebook and LinkedIn pages.

Nordic knowledge base highlights economic vulnerability in different stages of life

Despite well-developed welfare systems in the Nordic countries, more Nordic citizens live in economic vulnerability today than ten years ago. The growing number of children living in poverty is particularly serious, as is the fact that many pensioners, especially women, are living in economic hardship. In conjunction with the summit of the UN Commission on the Status of Women NIKK publishes a knowledge base, focusing on this year’s theme. 


Every year, the UN Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) brings together UN member states to set goals for global gender equality and develop measures to promote gender equality. In 2024, the summit takes place from 11 to 22 March, focusing on economic vulnerability and how to tackle it to empower women and girls. 

The Nordic countries have worked together for over 40 years to promote gender equality in all areas of society and have important knowledge to contribute on economic vulnerability. On behalf of the Nordic Council of Ministers, NIKK has produced a knowledge base that highlights a range of relevant areas. 

Women are over-represented

Despite well-developed welfare systems in the Nordic countries, poverty is a growing problem. More Nordic citizens live in economic vulnerability today than ten years ago, and in several of the Nordic countries the gap between rich and poor has increased. 

“The growing number of children living in poverty is particularly serious, as is the fact that many pensioners, especially women, are living in economic hardship. In order to more effectively tackle poverty, it is therefore necessary to consider all stages of life, from childhood, through youth and adulthood and into retirement and old age” says Susanna Young Håkansson, analyst at the Swedish Secretariat for Gender Research, University of Gothenburg, and the author of the knowledge base. 

Women are over-represented amongst those living in relative poverty and are generally at higher risk of poverty than men. With respect to finances, the knowledge base highlights a number of structural factors that favour men over women. There is also a need to look beyond age: how economic vulnerability affects the lives of different groups.  

Violence in relation to economic vulnerability

It is also important to highlight the role of violence in relation to economic vulnerability. While far from everyone living in economic vulnerability is exposed to violence, it is present and has led to poverty for many in the most economically vulnerable groups. 

“Welfare systems, authorities and employers must take shared responsibility for tackling the consequences of economic violence. Internationally, for example in the UK, there is experience of how this can be done, with social services and other relevant authorities given resources to create and develop support systems to support people who are victims of economic violence” says Susanna Young Håkansson.  

The Nordic knowledgebase Economic vulnerability in different stages of life emphasises the importance of taking into account the whole life cycle of people and shows the conditions of different groups. It also addresses economic violence in different forms, the consequences for victims, as well as the need for support structures. The knowledge base is summarised in a number of key messages.  

Nordic Gender Equality Fund seeks new projects in 2024!

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The purpose of the Nordic Gender Equality Fund is to stimulate Nordic co-operation in the area of gender equality. Since its establishment in 2013, the fund has financed over 90 projects, and we are now looking for more projects that can contribute to the Nordic benefit.


To be eligible for funding from the Nordic Gender Equality Fund, the planned activity must start in 2024 and be implemented within two years. The money can be used, for example, to develop common methods, produce new knowledge or organise conferences and develop networks.
The application form is available on nikk.no during the application period.

Dialogue and co-operation is one of the cornerstones of Nordic co-operation. The Nordic Gender Equality Fund provides an opportunity to do that. The fund finances projects involving at least three different organisations from at least three Nordic countries. The Faroe Islands, Greenland and Åland can constitute one country, and it is also possible to include a Baltic country in an application with at least two Nordic countries. It is fine to include more than three countries.

This year’s call for proposals from the Nordic Gender Equality Fund includes a dedicated effort for projects that focus on gender equality in climate action in the Arctic.

The Nordic Committee for Co-operation and the Arctic Expert Committee are co-financing activities under the Nordic Leadership for Gender Equality in Climate Action programme with DKK 250,000. Read more about it here.

In the fall of 2024, we will also launch a call for the Nordic LGBTI Fund. More information will be available in the spring. If you are looking for inspiration for projects, please read about previously funded projects on our website and our anniversary publication 10! – Results from 10 years of cooperation through the Nordic Gender Equality Fund.

Summary of the 2023 Icelandic presidency

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The year 2023 has come to an end and with it the Icelandic Presidency of the Nordic Council of Ministers. During the Icelandic presidency, the focus has been on the rights of older LGBTI people, gender perspective on climate work and the working conditions of trans people.


When Prime Minister Katrín Jakobsdóttir launched Iceland’s presidency of the Nordic Council of Ministers at the beginning of the year, she emphasised that gender equality and LGBTI work is one of the cornerstones of Nordic co-operation. In particular, she saw it as important to use the common Nordic voice to highlight the vulnerability of LGBTI people and the increasing incidence of threats and hatred in the Nordic Region and other parts of the world. To bring about change, the Icelandic presidency has initiated a campaign aimed at young Nordic citizens to prevent and combat hate speech, micro agression and harassment. The campaign is part of the roadmap established by the Nordic ministers for gender equality in 2022 (Pushing back the push-back: Nordic Roadmap on advancing gender equality, women’s and girls’ rights, and equal rights of LGBTI-persons).

It is extremely important to continue the fight against the backlash against gender equality and LGBTI rights. We have long and fruitful experience with Nordic cooperation in the field of equality, and cooperation between the Nordic countries on the LGBTI rights has also been successful in recent years. It is our duty to do our part as the rights of women and LGBTI people are under attack.

Katrín Jakobsdóttir:

One of the projects that follows in the wake of the Nordic ministers for gender equality’s plan to counteract the decline in the living conditions of LGBTI people is Trans people’s working conditions in the Nordic region. By combining national studies in the area, it is hoped to provide a clearer picture of the working conditions of trans people in the Nordic region. During the year, NIKK has arranged talks with LGBTI organisations in the Nordic region, with the Nordic anti-discrimination ombudsmen and has several events planned for 2024. It is hoped that documentation from these meetings will contribute further knowledge and fill knowledge gaps in the research overview on the working conditions of trans people that will be published next year.

Trans people have been attacked and marginalized in many ways, and there are many indications that their situation is worse than that of other groups within the LGBTI community. It is important to increase our knowledge of transgender issues so that appropriate action can be taken and prejudices can be countered through education in all areas of society.

Katrín Jakobsdóttir:

Studies show that LGBTI people experience particular challenges in life, but knowledge of the challenges faced by older LGBTI people is limited. During the Icelandic presidency, a Nordic initiative to compile knowledge about the living conditions of older LGBTI people and their encounters with health and social care has continued. The project has resulted in a Nordic report that was published in December and a high-level meeting on the subject organised in Reykjavik in late autumn. The meeting brought together researchers, civil society organisations, authorities and experts from across the Nordic Region to exchange knowledge and formulate opportunities and challenges. During 2024 results of the project will be disseminated through events and dialogues.

Eight projects receive funding from the Nordic Gender Equality Fund 2023

Eight projects have now been granted funding from the Nordic Gender Equality Fund 2023. Sexual exploitation online, gender equality in Sapmí and gender equality in the Nordic energy sector are some of the important projects that can use the fund to work towards a more gender equal Nordic Region.


Read more about the projects here:

In March-April 2024, NIKK will open the opportunity to apply for funding for Nordic co-operation in thGender diversity in the Nordic energy sector 2024e field of gender equality. As in previous years, at least three different actors from at least three Nordic countries must participate in the application. A total of approximately DKK 3 million will be distributed. More information on deadlines will be available in January 2024.

Report on the mental health of young men in the Nordic countries

Boy with a tablet in a dark room. Photo: Nick Fancher

New Nordic report highlights young men’s mental ill-health encompassing education, the workplace and the pandemic.


Mental ill-health is a significant social and public health problem in the Nordic countries. Multiple studies also show that mental health problems have increased in the Nordic countries in recent years, particularly among young people. Studies show that there are also gender differences when it comes to mental ill-health and that gender, sexuality and masculinity norms play an important role in how young men manage and experience their mental health.

A new research overview from NIKK, Nordic Information on Gender, focuses in particular on knowledge about young men’s mental health in relation to current conditions and challenges in education and training and the workplace in the Nordic countries. The study also highlights knowledge about the impacts of the pandemic on young men’s mental health, where increased unemployment, distance teaching and isolation have risked reinforcing negative spirals in mental well-being.

Elin Engström, Director of NIKK, believes that the results help to highlight the relationship between mental health, education and working life:

Schools and workplaces are important places where young men can come into contact with health promotion and support, and they can provide a sense of belonging. At the same time, the review shows that much of the mental ill health can be rooted in poor experiences of the education system and poor working environment. It is important that we look at the types of norms and beliefs that are reproduced in our Nordic educational institutions and workplaces and provide personalised support to those who need it.

The study also highlights the consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic for young men’s mental health, as increased unemployment, distance learning and isolation have risked reinforcing a negative development of mental health.

Nordic conference on sexual harassment: “High time to go from me too to me neither” 

Participants at the Nordic conference Prevent and Intervene - Ending Sexual Harassment at Work.

Joint efforts, research and shared knowledge in the Nordic Region are needed to put an end to sexual harassment in the workplace. This was stated by the Norwegian Minister of Gender Equality and Culture, Lubna Jaffery, in her opening speech at the Nordic conference Prevent and Intervene – Ending Sexual Harassment at Work. ‘It’s an ambitious goal, but there is no alternative. It’s high time to move from me too to me neither’, she said.

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Women are at greatest risk of experiencing sexual harassment. Factors such as age, ethnicity, education, functional variation and sexual identity also affect both exposure and the ability and opportunity for employees and employers to deal with what happens. Research from several studies in the Nordic countries shows that around one third of all women are exposed at some point during their working life.

‘We have had some large studies every few years and we do not see harassment go down. We use the word epidemic for this’, said Dagný Aradóttir Pind, lawyer at the Icelandic trade union BSRB, who took part in a dialogue on prevention with Joakim Aadland, director of Balansekunst in Norway, and Jeanine Førland, advisor in HR and personnel analysis at the Norwegian Police University College, moderated by Hannah Helseth.

The project Sexual Harassment in Tourism and Hospitality – using the past and present to inform the future emphasised the need for targeted and accessible knowledge about sexual harassment to ensure that training and information materials actually reach people. Both employees and managers in the Nordic tourism sector are often young. Many are also not native speakers of Nordic languages. 

Questions about behaviour reveal harassment

Joakim Aadland from the stakeholder organisation Balansekunst represented the cultural sector, where vulnerability is high because insecure employment and freelance assignments are so common. A study conducted by the organisation shows how answers are affected by how the questions are asked.

‘When we asked ‘have you ever been exposed to sexual harassment’, very few people said yes. When we asked specific questions about have you experienced this or that, the numbers went up. So that makes it even harder to work on this topic’, he said.

To obtain comparable data on sexual harassment in the Nordic region, the IWS-Nordic project has developed a standardised questionnaire based on questions about different behaviours. The Inventory of Workplace Sexual Harassment form is available on the project’s website in Danish and English, and soon in Norwegian and Swedish.

Workplace culture needs change

In the service and retail sector, the risk of exposure is high among those who interact with customers on a daily basis. The project Customer Sexual Harassments in the Nordic Service Workplace highlighted how the Nordic service culture can affect safety. Focusing on the customer and making the customer happy becomes a kind of overarching principle that affects the entire organisation, explained Markus Fellesson and Anna Fyrberg Yngfalk, both lecturers at the Centre for Service Research, Karlstad University.

‘Even in situations when arguably you shouldn´t provide any kind of service anymore you still do it, because that´s what you do if you´re doing your job in a proper way, Markus Fellesson said.

‘It´s essential to question the ideals and discourse and practices of service management because we see that this way of managing enables violence to unfold’, said Anna Fyrberg Yngfalk.

Several panel discussions and presentations discussed the gap between legal definitions and how sexual harassment is understood in practice, how grey zones are perceived, speaking “the same language” or even having a language to talk about the problem. To create a common understanding, regular training is needed. And often the workplace culture is the major challenge. 

‘When sexist harassment occurs in workplaces it is a sign that the workplace culture, hierarchies, organizational structures and work relations hold a every day sexist nature that enables sexual harassment, said Marta Padovan-Özdemir, Associate Professor at the Centre for Gender, Power and Diversity, Roskilde University, who presented the project Power Plays – preventing sexual harassment through memory work & forum theatre in workplaces of care.

Claus Jervell, secretary of the Norwegian Fellesforbundet, leads the union’s training programmes to change workplace cultures and engage bystanders, those who witness sexual harassment. These efforts have resulted in more people coming forward.

‘It´s not like most men harass women, but most men are passive bystanders in a culture where this is a part of the culture. Our work was to make passive bystanders active agents against harassment by giving them responsibility and tools. As a result we now have many cases of harassment coming in to the Union, both in our own organization and from the workplaces’, he said in a dialogue about translating research into practice, with Fredrik Bondestam, Director of the Swedish Secretariat for Gender Research, University of Gothenburg.

Management’s responsibility to build trust

To achieve change, everyone in the workplace needs to be involved. This is also the aim of the project “Speak Up!” – a practice-oriented research project on the prevention of Sexual Harassment (SUSH) which focuses particularly on bystanders, and which now also has continued funding from Nordforsk. One conclusion of the project is that a bottom-up perspective is preferable in workplace training programmes.

‘With an imancipatory approach it was possible to capture employees interests, their ability and collective resources to generate effective solutions to preventing sexual harassment’, said Linda Lane, senior lecturer at the Department of Social Work, University of Gothenburg, who represented the Swedish part of the joint Nordic project.

Jeanine Førland addressed the responsibility of management to support employees’ dialogue on sexual harassment, create a learning work environment and build trust. 

‘For people to report what they´re experiencing they have to trust how you will carry them through it, and how you will conduct it in the rest of the organization as well’, she said.

The conference was summarised by Sirið Stenberg, Minister for Social Affairs and Culture of the Faroe Islands, and Katrín Jakobsdóttir, Prime Minister of Iceland and Minister for Gender Equality gave the closing speech. 

 ‘We need training and dialogue and it´s crucial for implementing strategies and prevention. It´s up to us to break the silence and to create an environment where everyone feels protected’, said Sirid Stenberg.

‘Changing workplace culture attitudes and policies takes time and the fight against sexual harassment and violence continues. Sadly, we are not there yet’, said Katrín Jakobsdóttir.

Relaterade notiser

Updated 17 November 2023