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Gender Equality Fund Highlights Nordic Cooperation Against Violence

Lagging and inconsistent legislation against online violence. The importance of including an intersectional perspective in the understanding of violence prevention work and sharing of information between non-profit organisations and public entities such as the police and the legal system. These were some of the issues discussed when NIKK arranged a network meeting for projects that have received funding from the Nordic Council of Ministers’ gender equality fund.

NIKK spade symbol

‘The organizations involved in our project have worked hard to reach out to young people through social media, festivals and schools. We have for example arranged workshops for adolescents about what dating violence is and how it is expressed: psychological violence, digital violence, stalking. We were surprised to find out how few adults the adolescents have to talk to about their thoughts and questions about for example sexuality,’ says Hedda Hakvåg.

Hedda Hakvåg from Reform – Resource Centre for Men in Norway presented the project “Ungdoms kjærestevold i Norden. Nordisk ekspertkonferanse om vold i ungdommers parforhold”  together with Rikke Kann from Danish Dialogue against Violence at the network meeting.

Nordic cooperation in practice

The meeting gathered 10 organisations from six Nordic projects that work in various ways to prevent gender-related violence for two days in Helsinki. Representatives from for example universities, the police, women’s shelters and resource centres for men from Finland, Denmark, Iceland, Latvia, Norway and Sweden came together to share knowledge and experiences regarding the prevention of violence. The discussed projects focused on everything from online violence, violence among adolescents to the involvement of boys and men in the work against violence.

In addition to the project presentations, the meeting participants attended workshops in which they discussed the responsibilities of various actors and the needs that can be identified at the Nordic level when it comes to for example networks, knowledge and policy changes. One of the challenges addressed was how the legislation and law enforcement seem to always be one step behind in the Nordic countries when it comes to online violence, which causes many victims to experience a sense of poor legal security. The agenda also included discussions about the benefits of Nordic cooperation.

‘I see almost only advantages with Nordic cooperation. Every time I attend a Nordic meeting, I realise how much we have in common and how much we can learn from each other,’ says Brynhildur Heiðar- og Ómarsdóttir from the Icelandic Women’s Rights Association.

However, the Nordic context also implies a risk, as the need to discuss the countries’ shared traits may have an excluding effect.
‘We have to pay attention to the intersectional perspective, such as the LGBT perspective, violence against people with functional variations and ethnic minorities. It is important to hear also their voices when we develop the work against violence in Nordic co-operation,’ says Sari Laaksonen from The Federation of Mother and Child Homes and shelters, Finland.

Network meetings a new yearly tradition

This is the first time NIKK arranges a network meeting for fund projects, but from now on the plan is to arrange a meeting every year on various themes. The Finnish Presidency has identified violence as a prioritised area in 2016, which explains the focus of this year’s meeting. Moreover, the meeting was held in connection with the fund-supported conference “Confronting Gendered Violence – Focus on Perpetrators, which took place 30 November – 2 December in Helsinki, Finland.

‘NIKK has administered the Nordic Council of Ministers’ gender equality fund since 2013. So this week we have met both projects that have ended and projects that have just started. There is a lot to learn from the projects, not only for us at NIKK but also for the projects themselves in terms of how to make a project sustainable. It is also an opportunity for sharing knowledge with other organisations than those that are involved in the projects. There is clearly a strong interest in finding new networks and models of collaboration,’ says Louise Grip, project coordinator at NIKK.

Updated 14 February 2024