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New report provides gender perspective on sustainability in the future world of work

Foto: Johnér

The labour markets in the Nordic countries are changing rapidly. New demands are coming out of the green transition and digital development. What needs to be done to enable sustainable development based on human rights and gender equality? NIKK’s new publication on the future world of work in the Nordic countries highlights some of the opportunities and challenges for a sustainable world of work from a gender perspective.


Labour markets and the world of work are facing a variety of challenges, including challenges emanating from technological change, demographic shifts, and regional differences. This is happening at the same time as views on knowledge, learning and education, and the logics of governance are changing or have changed. NIKK’s new publication Towards a sustainable future world of work in the Nordic countries – The gender perspective on the opportunities and challenges describes these changes and focuses on three of the challenges:  

  • Lifelong learning: being schooled in readiness to change  
  • The significance of place: teleworking and work on site  
  • Forms of employment and working conditions: the gig economy and entrepreneurship as examples. 

 
By identifying the challenges from a gender perspective, it becomes possible to problematize assumptions about technology-driven social development that have a bearing on the world of work and the supply of skills. They are also positioned in relation to policy goals for sustainable economic, social and environmental development.   

“Gender analyses indicate that prevailing norms and social structures assign women and men different roles, opportunities and responsibilities – and that these norms and social structures are limiting our opportunities to transition to a sustainable society,” says Fredrik Bondestam, Director of the Swedish Secretariat for Gender Research where NIKK is located. 

The publication takes up examples where the different aspects of sustainability are somewhat at odds with each other. Economic interests and thus economic sustainability are often given priority over social and environmental sustainability. The examples also show how such unequal priorities reproduce inequalities based on gender, class, age and ethnicity. Intersectional analyses of how different systems of power interact are important to understanding gender and sustainability. 

“There are many opportunities to make the world of work in the future more sustainable, but for this to happen, power relationships must be taken into account. Because they do not automatically change as a result of technological or economic changes. They just find new, different, or additional expressions than previously,” says Fredrik Bondestam. 

Focus on changes in the workplace and education  

Why is the rise in teleworking increasing inequalities? Could it possibly get rural areas in the Nordic region to flourish? Who are the people working in the growing gig economy, where gigs are allocated via digital platforms, and what are the conditions like in this economy? What roles do sex and gender play in education when the role of education is strongly tied to the labour market’s need for employable labour? The three challenges highlighted in this publication in various ways show how the workplace, and education and training systems related to the workplace, have changed in a variety of different ways. These changes are due to technological development, deregulation and different governance logics. 

“New ways of organising work and the demand for a more flexible workforce also challenge previous norms that work is attached to a fixed place and is something where there is a clear employer responsibility. The examples in the publication illustrate how this can manifest itself. Highlighting these changes from a gender perspective is absolutely key to achieving sustainable development,” says Fredrik Bondestam.  

For each of the three challenges, the publication presents a number of central messages as takeaways for future discussions on possible ways forward. These discussions are essential for achieving the 2030 Agenda goals, and for creating a sustainable world of work where nobody is left behind.   

As a Nordic Council of Ministers cooperation body, NIKK – Nordic Information on Gender – contributes to realising the Council’s Vision 2030. NIKK’s areas of activity all deal with one or other of the major challenges of our time, and are based on the global sustainable development goals. By highlighting the gender perspective on pressing issues, NIKK strives to make a contribution to sustainable solutions for social development in the Nordic countries. 

Read about the Nordic LGBTI Fund in four languages

Photo: Martin Zachrisson/norden.org

This autumn, the Nordic LGBTI* Fund opens up for applications for funding for the second year in a row. We have gathered information about the Fund in a message available in English, Finnish, Icelandic, and Swedish.


The Fund is a part of the Nordic co-operation on improving conditions for LGBTI people. NIKK administers the Fund on behalf of the Nordic Council of Ministers. It opens for applications for funding on 1 September 2022.

The Fund finances projects in which at least three organisations from at least three of the Nordic countries will co-operate to promote equal rights and opportunities for LGBTI people in the Nordic countries. Projects that aim to respond in various ways to promote equal rights for LGBTI people, contribute new knowledge and promote exchanges of experience or which manifest and develop Nordic co-operation can apply for grants from the Fund.

All information about the Fund is now gathered in a message available in English, Finnish, Icelandic, and Swedish.

Read the message in

*LGBTI is an acronym for lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans, and intersex. Although the abbreviations used in the various Nordic countries may differ, LGBTI is the acronym used in all official Nordic co-operation as it is equivalent to what is used in other international organisations.

Green transition and LGBTI focus as Norway takes charge

Every year, the Presidency of the Nordic Council of Ministers and thereby leadership of efforts to promote gender equality rotate among the five member countries. In 2022, Norway is at the helm. The Presidency’s functions include leading initiatives in climate and gender equality policy and enhancing the health and wellbeing of LGBTI people. For succeeding with equality-projects, collaboration among various sectors of society is vital, says Siw Ellefsen (ÄK-JÄM).


In January, representatives of business, authorities and civil society gathered at a roundtable discussion in Oslo. The aim was to help build alliances to boost awareness of the connection between climate and gender equality policy ­­— one of several priority areas for the Nordic Ministers for Gender Equality and LGBTI (MR-JÄM). The Nordic Co-Operation Programme on Gender Equality and its supplement for the LGBTI area lays particular emphasis on the importance of involving multiple sectors, to provide more perspectives on complex issues and create a broad base, so that results and knowledge summaries from all the projects reach more recipients in the community.

“Gender equality policy doesn’t take place in a vacuum. Instead, it’s vital for our efforts to be made in collaboration with important sectors of society, such as the areas of education and healthcare, in the world of work and in the legal system. Only through goal-oriented, long-term and systematic cooperation will we achieve lasting results,” says Siw Ellefsen, section head at the Ministry of Culture and Gender Equality in Norway, and member of the Nordic Committee of Senior Officials for Gender Equality and LGBTI (ÄK-JÄM).

International contribution to gender equality

The roundtable discussion on green transition in Oslo was a pre-meeting for the UN Commission on the Status of Women in New York, where the Nordic ministers for gender equality and LGBTI joined a ministerial panel with the same theme. The ministers also presented a declaration of their commitment to joining in the endeavour to bring about a green, gender-equal Nordic region that was handed over to UN Women’s Executive Director Sima Sami Bahous.

“The Nordic Council of Ministers is an outstanding platform for cooperation, knowledge exchange and communication vis-à-vis a global public as well. UN Women and Bahous have called for a greater Nordic commitment to promote gender equality internationally. The Nordic region has assumed this responsibility, and we’re prepared to make our contribution over the coming years,” Ellefsen says.

Investigating health and social care for LGBTI elderly

The current programme period for Nordic co-operation in the areas of gender equality will continue until year-end 2024. LGBTI issues are integral to long-term efforts for equality of opportunity in the Nordic region. This year, a project will be launched to enhance openness and improve the quality of life for older LGBTI people, with a special focus on health and care work.

“Surveys clearly indicate that for LGBTI, the quality of life is lower than for the rest of the population. In the Nordic setting, we have focused on children and young LGBTI people. However, there’s abundant evidence that it’s tough being older, openly queer and in need of public healthcare services,” Ellefsen says.

The Living Conditions and Quality of Life for Older LGBTI People project is to be implemented in collaboration with the Nordic Council of Ministers for Health and Social Affairs (MR-S). Nordic Information for Gender (NIKK) has been commissioned to run the project, and the results will be presented during a final conference in Iceland, in 2023.

Several other projects are due to start during the Norwegian Presidency. Examples include one on gender equality in fisheries and marine aquaculture and a conference on workplace gender equality to be held in Oslo on 27 September. The research initiative on sexual harassment in working life continues and, with a focus on young men’s mental ill health, a research overview will be compiled by 2023. NIKK is administering and producing knowledge overviews in several of the projects. Read more about the NIKK projects during Norway’s Presidency in 2022.

Siw Ellefsen. Photo: Kultur- og likestillingsdepartementet

Apply for funding for efforts to improve conditions for LGBTI people

Photo: Martin Zachrisson/norden.org

This autumn, the Nordic LGBTI* Fund opens up for applications for funding for the second time. The purpose is to promote Nordic co-operation within the field and to improve conditions for LGBTI people in the region. The call opens on 1 September.


The work to improve the living conditions of LGBTI people is an important part of Nordic co-operation and of the Nordic Council of Ministers’ vision of becoming the world’s most sustainable and integrated region. Since 2020, the Nordic Council of Ministers has been co-operating to promote equal rights and opportunities for LGBTI people in the Nordic region. One part of this work is the Nordic LGBTI Fund, which is administrated by NIKK on behalf of the Nordic Council of Ministers. This autumn, the Fund opens up for applications for the second year in a row. 

Who can apply for funding? 

Dialogue and co-operation are one of the cornerstones of Nordic collaboration. The Nordic LGBTI Fund provides the opportunity for this. The Fund finances projects where at least three organisations, from at least three Nordic countries, collaborate. The call is open to various activities and organisations, such as voluntary organisations, authorities and companies. 

Projects that contribute to Nordic interests and work for equal rights and opportunities for LGBTI people in the Nordic countries can apply for financing from the Fund. A total of approx. 1,5 million DKK will be distributed. 

The activities should start during 2022 and are to be carried out within two years. The funding can be used to develop common methods and new knowledge, and to hold conferences and build networks, etc. 

Important dates for the Nordic LGBTI Fund 

You need to apply via a form, which will be available from nikk.no during the application period. 

  • 1 September – the call opens 
  • 30 September – deadline for applications 
  • November/December – decisions notified to applicants 
  • December – contracts will be signed  

Upcoming events within Nordic LGBTI co-operation 

In addition to the work with the Fund, NIKK also contributes to the collaboration by gathering and spreading knowledge. In May, several events within the Nordic co-operation for strengthened LGBTI rights will be arranged. 

On 20–22 May, a conference aiming to enable the exchange of experience and knowledge between Nordic LGBTI organisations will take place in Oslo. The conference is organised by the project Enhancing Nordic LGBT+ organisations capacities amidst an international backlash against LGBT+ rights, financed by the Nordic LGBTI Fund. NIKK will be participating as an observer, to inform about the possibilities with the Fund, and highlight the Nordic LGBTI co-operation. 

On 20 May, NIKK will arrange a network meeting in Oslo for the projects granted funding in 2021. The meeting will give participants the opportunity to present their projects and discuss Nordic co-operation within the LGBTI area. 

*LGBTI is an acronym for lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans, and intersex. Although the abbreviations used in the various Nordic countries may differ, LGBTI is the acronym used in all official Nordic co-operation as it is equivalent to what is used in other international organisations. 

Researchers and practitioners in collaboration   awarded funding in Nordic research initiative

How can we increase the knowledge about the role of bystanders in different risk situations? Which tools are needed to to break the silencing of sexual harassment in workplaces of care, and to promote a workplace culture prone to actively prevent sexual harassment? How can researchers and working life actors contribute to prevention strategies for the tourism and hospitality sectors? These are issues that are highlighted in the research projects that have been granted funds in the research initiative by the Nordic Council of Ministers, with focus on sexual harassment in working life.


Working life in the Nordic countries has many similarities in terms of overall structures and regulations, but also in terms of usual practice and procedures. Yet we know little about the importance of these structures for understanding or preventing sexual harassment in the workplace. 

Sexual harassment in the workplace is a complex area that touches on many different areas of knowledge and fields of research. Research into violence, into sexual harassment, and into other forms of harassment in the workplace are some of the cornerstones that can provide a better picture of the problem, make it more likely that prevention will work, and assist in developing effective intervention methods. 

In light of this, the Nordic Council of Ministers decided to support a Nordic research initiative, with two Open Calls, in co-operation between several sectors within the Nordic collaboration. Sectors involved include gender equality, culture, working life and the Nordic Committee for Children and Young People.  
 

Granted research projects in Open Call 2 

Open Call 2 was aimed at researchers and practitioners who intend to initiate practice-based research activities in collaboration. This call focuses mainly on preventative measures and methods for intervention through industry studies and comparative studies of different industries. The proposals are to be developed in partnership between several Nordic countries. 

Applications that met the criteria was assessed by external academic reviewers. Decisions were made after consulting the cross-sectoral reference group appointed by the Nordic Council of Ministers in connection with this initiative. The following research projects have been granted funds in Open Call 2:  

NIKK is administering the research initiative and will also disseminate information about and knowledge from the projects that are awarded grants in the two Open Calls.

Read more about the research initiative and the two Open Calls here.

Gender segregation in VET focus of new report

Both the labour markets and the education systems in the Nordic countries are highly gender-segregated.  This is particularly apparent in vocational education and training (VET). Today, NIKK is launching a new report describing the state of knowledge and the education systems across the Nordic countries, and providing examples of existing interventions to break patterns of gender segregation in VET in these countries.


Women and men are found in different courses and study programmes and sectors of the labour market, and also end up in different positions in the hierarchies of both the education systems and working life. This gender segregation has consequences for study and working conditions, pay, and the distribution of power and resources. VET programmes involve many practices where sex and gender have significance, and where gender segregation is particularly apparent. 

Tasked by the Nordic Council of Ministers, NIKK has produced the report “Vocational education and training in the Nordic countries – Knowledge and interventions to combat gender segregation”. The report describes the current state of knowledge and the education systems in the Nordic countries. It also provides examples of existing interventions aiming to break patterns of gender segregation in VET programmes in the Nordic countries. The final part of the report analyses each of its parts and presents recommendations and overall reflections on what needs to be taken into account in future work for change.  

Few interventions focus on gender coding 

In the Nordic countries, interventions to reduce gender imbalances in working life and education are largely implemented as part of overall policy strategies. Some interventions target specific sectors. The report shows that many of these interventions to counter gender segregation aim to encourage the under-represented sex to choose differently. However, few of them focus on the gender coding that exists and is reproduced in VET programmes and in the workplaces associated with them.  

“Gender coding is closely tied to how work is valued. Traditions, tasks and cultures in these occupations and in VET are associated with masculinity or femininity. This does not automatically change when the proportion of women or men in a particular sector changes,” says Angelica Simonsson, PhD in education and senior analyst at the Swedish Secretariat for Gender Research, who wrote the report.  

Many similarities and differences in the Nordic countries’ education systems  

The education systems in the Nordic countries have many fundamental similarities, but also many differences, especially when it comes to the way in which VET programmes are organised. All these education systems have in common that they have always had the fundamental idea that social disparities can be addressed through education. Common to all the Nordic countries is that they have a universal education system where all pupils attend compulsory school together. When pupils are roughly 15-16 years old, they transition to upper secondary school. There, they can choose between a stream that leads to university studies or a VET stream, or a combination of both. One of the major differences between the countries is how strong the divide is between these two streams, and being able to study for entry to university studies for those who choose a VET programme.  

“This is linked in part to the countries’ different ways of dealing with the issue of social inclusion and equity,” continues Angelica Simonsson.  

One of the most striking similarities in VET in the Nordic countries is the numbers of boys and girls studying in different VET areas. The report presents statistics which show great similarities in the areas where boys dominate and where girls dominate, and that boys generally exhibit a greater dominance. At the same time, the subject areas involve different things in the different countries and are therefore not entirely comparable. Overall however, it can be said that there is an almost total dominance of boys in the energy, industry, building and construction sectors. Girls instead dominate in the area of health and social care. In sectors such as service and administration, there is a greater gender balance. 

A more comprehensive focus on norms is needed  

There are several explanatory models for why gender segregation in VET occurs. What is clear is that sex, gender, VET and work are interlinked. The explanations form a complex fabric in which the individual level and societal level interact; in which policy, governance and labour market forces interact; and in which the individual’s choices are constrained and curtailed both directly and indirectly. A focus on individuals alone within the under-represented group in a particular sector appears to be a poor solution to the problem. 

“Instead, a more comprehensive and distributed focus on norms and attitudes is needed, targeting actors and practices at a number of levels in the labour market and in these countries’ education systems,” says Angelica Simonsson.  

An accessible version of the publication(in English) can be found here.

Read about the Nordic Gender Equality Fund in four languages

1st of March, the Nordic Gender Equality Fund opens for applications for funding. We have gathered information about the new fund in a message available in English, Finnish, Icelandic and Swedish.


The Nordic Gender Equality Fund finances collaborations that promote gender equality. Through the Fund, the Nordic Council of Ministers issues an annual call for proposals for funding projects in which at least three organisations, from at least three Nordic countries, collaborate. NIKK is tasked to administrate the fund. It opens for applications for funding March 1 2022.  

All information about the fund is now gathered in a message available in English, Finnish, Icelandic och Swedish.  

Mobilising against hatred and harassment during the Finnish Presidency


Over the past year, the Nordic countries have taken joint action to promote gender equality. Police officers as well as preschool teachers have been invited to share experiences and find solutions with their Nordic colleagues.


Over the past year, the Nordic countries have taken joint action to promote gender equality. Police officers as well as preschool teachers have been invited to share experiences and find solutions with their Nordic colleagues.

2021 is now over. The Finnish Presidency has rounded off a year in which there have been many opportunities to learn from each other in the area of gender equality and LGBTI issues in the Nordic region.

Hanna Onwen-Huma, Chair of the Nordic Committee of Senior Officials for Gender Equality and LGBTI (ÄK-JÄM), mention the two-day conference ‘Gender-based Hate, Threat and Harassment on the Internet’ in the summer as an example.

“Victimisation online is a problem we see across the Nordic region, and we can benefit from looking at each other’s work,” she says.

The key takeaways from the conference have been summarised by independent expert Elina Nikulainen. Hanna Onwen-Huma believes that the police in the Nordic countries can benefit greatly from working together to find solutions.

“We see that online harassment often falls through the cracks with the police. Their work is divided up in such a way that some work on cybercrime and others on sexual harassment, and they do not interact. This is a problem throughout the Nordic region,” she says.

Focus on early childhood education

Another issue that has been in focus during the Finnish Presidency is gender equality in early childhood education. The work in the Nordic region has been mapped in the report “Changing Stereotypes and Breaking Traditions”. Using the report as a starting point, a seminar was held in early September for preschool teachers on how they can improve the preschool’s gender equality efforts in relation to the children.

“This is an important question because we know that what we learn as children influences the life choices we see as possible, and this is also reflected later in life,” says Hanna Onwen-Huma.

Hate targeting LGBTI people

In the LGBTI area, the Nordic Council of Ministers has a particular focus on hate crime in 2021. A survey was carried out on what different countries are doing in this area, and a seminar was held at the end of November focusing on successful examples.

“It brought together different actors such as police officers and representatives of LGBTI organisations. I think it was very fruitful,” says Hanna Onwen-Huma.

One challenge in the work to prevent hate crime is that many victims do not report it to the police.  

“We need to change this, and we can see that the results are better when the police and LGBTI organisations work together,” says Hanna Onwen-Huma.

Online during the pandemic

Many of the activities during the year had to be carried out online due to the pandemic.

“In practical terms, this meant extra work as we had to reschedule several times at the last minute, but I don’t think the quality has suffered,” says Hanna Onwen-Huma.

The only event it was not possible to hold was the conference ‘Nordic Fathers on Paternity Leave’. It was due to be held in 2021 but has been postponed until March 2022.

Norway takes over the Presidency of the Nordic Council of Ministers for 2022.

“They have excellent plans for the area of gender equality next year,” says Hanna Onwen-Huma, and explains that these include looking more closely at the anti-gender debate from a global perspective.

“The Nordic countries will join forces to see how we can fight against this movement, which is attacking the work to strengthen the rights of girls, women and LGBTI people.”


New Nordic co-operation projects strengthen the LGBTI area

Photo: Martin Zachrisson/norden.org

During autumn 2021, the Nordic LGBTI Fund was open for applications for funding for the very first time. Two projects strengthening the LGBTI area in the Nordic region has now been granted funding.


The Nordic LGBTI Fund’s first call for proposals has resulted in two new, Nordic co-operation projects in the LGBTI area. One project is going to gather and develop networks for queers in Sápmi. The other one will arrange a conference, bringing together Nordic organisations that work to improve rights and living conditions for the LGBT+ population. Read more about the projects and their work on the projects’ respective pages.

Projects granted funding from the Nordic  LGBTI Fund 2021

The Nordic LGBTI Fund is administrated by NIKK on behalf of the Nordic Council of Ministers. Information about the call for proposals for 2022 is available here.

The Nordic countries are combating hate crime targeting LGBTI people

The Nordic countries are among the most progressive in the world when it comes to the health and well-being of LGBTI people. Yet many are exposed to violence, hatred, intimidation and harassment because of their sexual orientation or gender identity. A new report has just been released which sheds light on this situation.


The report entitled Hate crimes targeting LGBTI people in the Nordic countries describes how these countries are working to capture and combat hate crime targeting LGBTI people and points out important actors, strategies and legislation.

All people should be able to live and work in the Nordic countries without fear of hatred, threats and discrimination. This report gives us a better basis for improving the situation of LGBTI people by pointing to what efforts are needed. For example, decision makers, the authorities and civil society all need to work together in better ways, says Thomas Blomqvist, Finland’s Minister for Gender Equality.

The report presents how the police and the legal system work when it comes to hate crimes in each country for example. It also gives examples of knowledge-enhancement initiatives and support for victims of crime. The role and efforts of civil society are also a focus.


Preventive efforts common

A somewhat positive picture of the trend in the Nordic countries in recent decades emerges from the report, which names new legislation protecting LGBTI people against hatred and discrimination as a contributing factor to this. The majority of these countries are also working to prevent and identify hate crimes against people based on their sexual orientation or gender identity. Often, a number of authorities and civil society organisations are involved in this work.

Other factors that point in a positive direction are that hate crimes are prioritised by the police in many of these countries. It is also common to keep statistics on how often and where hate crimes take place in order to enhance knowledge about them. Many of these countries are also engaged in knowledge-enhancing measures which aim to get more people to report these crimes, or to improve the skills of those who encounter the victims of these crimes in their work.

A number of challenges for these countries in combating hate crime emerge from the report – challenges related to the work of the police and how cooperation between different actors functions. Examples of these challenges are that the police sometimes fail to recognise hate motives in crimes, and that those groups that are particularly at risk of hate crime often lack confidence in the police. These are factors which make it more difficult to solve hate crimes. The report also highlights the need to improve cooperation between the police and civil society crime victim support activities.


Several initiatives to improve the situation of LGBTI people in the Nordic countries

This report is one of several initiatives within the framework of the regional LGBTI strategy adopted by the Nordic Council of Ministers in 2020. Previous initiatives have focused on the health and well-being of young LGBTI people and next year a research review of the living conditions of older LGBTI people is planned. The report Hate crimes targeting LGBTI people in the Nordic countries was produced by Nordic Information on Gender (NIKK) on behalf of the Nordic Council of Ministers.

It will be presented in conjunction with the Nordic Council of Ministers’ seminar LGBTI People’s Safety and Well-being – Good Practices in the Nordics held in Helsinki on 30 November.

Read the full report here (PDF)
An accessible version of the publication can be found here

Updated 1 December 2021