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NIKK and Nordregio arrange the webinar Gender equality – a key to rural prosperity


The population structure in the Nordic countries is changing fast. Ageing, migration, and urbanisation pose challenges for both labour markets and welfare provision – especially in remote rural regions. The current Covid crisis adds fuel to the fire and the response and resilience differs widely between countries and regions. What are the solutions towards a more sustainable regional development?

Two new reports point to the importance of adding a gender perspective to regional policy and planning, especially in remote areas. Men and women have different migration patterns and educational aspirations. The gender-segregated labour market and traditional gender roles in responsibility for care are persistent. What if rural areas could be frontrunners in breaking gender stereotypes and enabling work-life balance for young families and local entrepreneurs?

NIKK, Nordic Information on Gender, and Nordregio, Nordic Institute for Regional Development, invites you to a webinar on March 25 exploring the connection between gender and regional development. What can we learn from research and proactive policies, regional experts and local change-makers from some of the most isolated places in the Nordics? Join the discussion on Zoom!

Read more about the seminar
Language: English
Questions about the event: Elin Engström, Head of operations, NIKK, +46 766-229 239,

Ministers initiate research on sexual harassment at work

The Nordic Council of Ministers supports joint research on sexual harassment at work with 3,7 million Danish crowns.  The initiative is especially focused on prevention and methods for intervention through industry studies and comparative studies of different industries. Other topics for the Finnish presidency are hate and threat, men’s care responsibility and norms in preschools.

Violence, harassment and other forms of vulnerability at work are major societal challenges with serious consequences for individuals and workplace organisations. At the same time there are major gaps in our knowledge about methods for preventing and stopping violence and harassment, protecting victims and being proactive in workplace environments. 

 “Although our awareness about sexual harassment has increased in recent years, the phenomenon has by no means disappeared. Research and evidence-based knowledge has an important role in developing new and effective measures to combat sexual harassment, says Thomas Blomqvist, Finnish Minister for Gender Equality and Nordic Co-operation and newly appointed Chairman for the Nordic gender equality and LGBTI cooperation. This is an extremely important issue, where Nordic cooperation and exchange of knowledge can bring great added value.” 

Thomas Blomqvist. Photo:
Thomas Blomqvist. Photo:

This is a cross-sectoral research initiative jointly with several sectors within the Nordic cooperation. The collaborative sectors are gender equality, culture, working life and the Nordic Committee for Children and Young People. Further sectors may be added at a later date. 

Objectives for the initiative 

The overarching objectives of the initiative are:  

  • To contribute towards new knowledge on sexual harassment at work in the Nordic countries, with a focus on preventive measures and intervention methods.  
  • To contribute towards a good knowledge base for policy development and to cross-sectoral Nordic collaboration.  
  • For the research to be of high academic quality, practice-based and well communicated.  
  • To be relevant to the collaborative sectors involved, for affected industries and for the working life actors  

The research initiative spans over 2021 – 2023 and is administered by Nordic Information on Gender, NIKK, on behalf of the Nordic Council of Ministers. Two calls will be made during 2021.  

Activities against hate and threats

Apart from the research initiative the Finnish presidency will, within the Nordic gender equality cooperation, also focus on activities against hate and threats, especially harassments on the net. Issues about norms and gender stereotypes will also be in focus, especially concerning preschools. Regarding these issues a Nordic survey will be made, with present research, reports and legislation and a Nordic conference will be arranged, to present new knowledge and exchange experiences.  

Men’s care responsibility, fatherhood and parental leave are also issues that will be highlighted during the year. The Finnish presidency continues to establish the new policy area concerning rights, treatment and possibilities for LGBTI people. In November this will be the focus of a conference.

Apply for funding for Nordic co-operation in the gender equality and LGBTI area

From early in 2021, it will be possible to apply for funding from the Nordic Gender Equality Fund again. Activities that want to establish Nordic co-operation projects in the gender equality area can apply for funding for these projects. New for 2021 is the LGBTI Fund to promote Nordic efforts to improve conditions for LGBTI people. In total, nearly three and a half million Danish kroner will be distributed for Nordic co-operation.

On 1 March 2021, Nordic Information on Gender (NIKK) will again be open to applications for funding for Nordic co-operation projects in the gender equality area. As in previous years, actors from at least three Nordic countries need to be involved in each application. Thanks to this co-operation, knowledge is growing and being shared across borders. We are finding common solutions and learning from each other.

The activities in these projects are to start during 2021 and be completed within two years The funds can be used to develop joint methods, develop new knowledge, hold conferences and establish networks, etc. A total of DKK 1,975,000 will be distributed.

Important dates for the Nordic Gender Equality Fund

Complete the application form which will be available at during the application period.

  • 1 March – Applications open
  • 31 March – Deadline for applications
  • May – Decisions notified to applicants
  • June – Contracts drawn up.

New fund to improve conditions for LGBTI people

As of 2021, the strategy for the new Nordic co-operation on conditions for LGBTI persons will become operative. Part of this work is the new fund which aims to promote Nordic co-operation in the LGBTI area in accordance with the LGBTI addendum to the Nordic Co-operation Programme on Gender Equality. Projects that contribute to efforts for LGBTI people’s equal rights, treatment and opportunities in the Nordic countries can apply for funding from this Fund. A total of DKK 1,238,000 will be distributed. NIKK will start accepting applications after summer 2021. There will be more information about the new LGBTI Fund available in early 2021.

The following projects were granted funding in 2020:

Young voices made their mark during the Danish Presidency

Virtual meetings, cancelled conferences and unexpected changes. But gender equality efforts in the Nordic countries have not slowed down – quite the opposite. In 2020 for example, a three-year research effort was initiated to combat sexual harassment, and conditions for LGBTI people has become a separate policy area.

The year 2020 is drawing to an end. The ongoing pandemic has brought about huge changes, but also new solutions. As the Danish Presidency of the Nordic Council of Ministers for Gender Equality is to be handed over to Finland, Kira Appel, Deputy Head of the Department of Gender Equality in the Ministry of Employment in Denmark, looks back on an historic year with mixed feelings.

“All physical meetings and conferences have had to be cancelled, which has been extremely unfortunate. Nevertheless, we have succeeded in carrying out the activities that were planned.

During the year, the Danish Presidency’s work with gender equality has focused on four areas: the 25th anniversary of the Beijing Platform, violence and harassment, men and gender equality, and LGBTI issues.

Young people in the Nordic countries setting the agenda

This year, the Global Action Plan on Gender Equality, the Beijing Platform, turned 25 years old. This was marked by the campaign #GenerationEqualityNordic. As part of this campaign, the Nordic ministers for gender equality invited young people to drive work with gender equality forward by allowing them to post texts about the gender equality issues that they consider to be the most important.

“We have had a great focus on young people and how to ensure that they are heard in the planning of gender equality efforts,” says Kira Appel.

The conversations started during the campaign were to be taken further by the ministers at this year’s many global summits, as well as the Nordic Youth Summit on Gender Equality in Copenhagen in May. The summit was cancelled and instead the young people were invited to the meeting of the Nordic Council of Ministers for Gender Equality in November. Their perspective will be included in the new Nordic Co-operation Programme on Gender Equality.

Research effort: How to prevent sexual harassment

At their meeting in November, the Nordic Ministers for Gender Equality also decided to invest in a major research-based knowledge boost about sexual harassment in the workplace. The initiative will run for three years and contribute new knowledge about sexual harassment in the workplace, with a focus on prevention. The research effort is cross-sectoral, with funding totalling DKK 4.8 million. Part of this sum will be distributed through two separate open calls for proposals in 2021 to fund inter-Nordic research collaborations.

In November, the report entitled “The Angry Internet”, which was produced by the Centre for Digital Youth Care on behalf of the Nordic Council of Ministers, was also published. It examines Internet forums consisting of young men, where they discuss, incite and encourage misogyny. The report and its results were presented at a virtual event. The report has attracted great political interest and engagement in the Nordic region as well as globally.

An overall objective of the Danish Presidency was to include the western Nordic regions in work with gender equality and in February a seminar on fatherhood was held in the Faroe Islands. Next year, a seminar on violence will be held in Greenland.

LGBTI issues now a separate area

One of the biggest achievements of the year is that the Nordic countries’ work with  conditions for LGBTI persons was established as a separate area.

“In the past, this area was spread out and in many instances it was forgotten about,” says Kira Appel.

In a survey to identify where the Nordic countries are lacking in their work to assure the physical and mental health of LGBTI people, a number of problems emerged. These included a lack of knowledge among government agencies and health care providers as well as negative attitudes in general. This needs to change with the aid of the new strategy that has been developed as an addendum to the existing Co-operation Programme.

Although 2020 will go down in history as one of the most revolutionary in modern times, Nordic gender equality efforts have continued to make strong progress.

“Our work has been somewhat thrown off balance due to the pandemic, but we are very pleased with what we have managed to do despite this,” says Kira Appel.

New call for proposals to combat gender segregation in the Nordic labour market

This year, the Nordic Council of Ministers will be issuing a call for proposals from actors in the Nordic countries co-operating in projects aimed at combating gender segregation in the labour market. A total of DKK 4 million in funding will be distributed for up to four years to Nordic co-operation projects working for lasting change in this area.

In mid-August 2020, the Nordic Council of Ministers will open for applications containing proposals aimed at combating gender segregation in the labour market. Through this call, the Nordic Council of Ministers hopes to contribute to a more sustainable working life that makes the best use of the potential of all people.

Mogens Jensen, Denmark’s Minister for Equal Opportunities and Nordic Cooperation, points out that this issue is of great importance to all the Nordic countries.

“The Nordic countries have come a long way in terms of gender equality, and participation in the labour market is high among both women and men. But on the other hand, the labour market remains quite extensively gender-segregated, which has consequences for everyone, regardless of gender, in a variety of areas ranging from personal economy and power and influence to health and quality of life. That is why grants from the Nordic Gender Equality Fund are going to be distributed to projects aiming to tackle this problem.”

This initiative is particularly urgent in the wake of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, as its consequences are impacted by the gender segregation in the labour market. Many hard-hit industries, such as health care, education, and transport, are very gender-segregated. This means that women and men are being impacted unequally by loss of income and changes in demand for labour and in working conditions.

Priority issue in Nordic co-operation

Combating gender segregation in the labour market is a strategic area of action in the Nordic Co-operation Programme on Gender Equality 2019–2022.  This area encompasses a number of important aspects of gender equality including choice of education, working conditions, and freedom from sexual harassment. The programme is a unique opportunity to confront these challenges through Nordic co-operation and work for gender equality and a sustainable working life for everyone.

“It’s a unique initiative, and an area in which Nordic co-operation is highly relevant since the labour markets in the Nordic countries are structured in similar ways in many respects. We know that there is a great deal of expertise and willingness to drive development forward out there. And we hope that this will be reflected in the applications received,” says Mogens Jensen.

Susanna Young Håkansson

Young voices in focus during the Danish presidency

This year marks the 25th anniversary of the Beijing Platform, which is also making its mark in Nordic gender equality efforts. These efforts in the Nordic countries will have a strong international focus throughout the year, making room in particular for young people to get involved and set the agenda for the future.

This international focus will be felt in a number of ways during the year. For example, the Nordic countries will be contributing a significant joint program during the annual Commission on the Status of Women in New York in March. Young speakers will play a major role in the Nordic countries’ joint program.

“Many young people today were not even born when the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action was written. It’s important to involve them and get their views on the issues that are important to them,” says Kira Appel, Deputy Head of the Department of Gender Equality in the Danish government.

The Beijing Platform for Action is a supplementary policy document to the Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW). It is formulated as a 12-point action plan and was adopted by the United Nations in 1995. Kira Appel describes the platform as a milestone in international gender equality efforts.

“It was something to unite around and the issues in it are still relevant. We need to maintain a focus on the implementation of the platform. But we must also listen to young people and highlight new issues that were not included in the platform,” she says.

After the conference in New York, later on in the spring, there will be a Nordic Youth Conference in Copenhagen focusing on young people’s visions for the future of gender equality policy. In order to further strengthen the voices of young people, the Nordic countries will also launch a campaign entitled #GenerationEqualityNordic that will be conducted in synergy with UN Women’s campaign #GenerationEquality.

Four priority areas

During 2020, Nordic cooperation on gender equality will be based on four priority areas. In addition to the international focus on the Beijing Platform for Action, particular attention will be paid to the areas of violence and harassment, men and gender equality, and LGBTI issues.

Nordic cooperation around LGBTI issues is still under construction. The Nordic Council of Ministers decided that these issues are to be managed in the area of gender equality and new funding has been earmarked for this.

“All of the Nordic countries are in agreement that LGBTI people constitute a group that is subject to discrimination and we can see that there is a benefit in cooperating and learning from each other,” says Kira Appel.

The first step being carried out now is mapping what can be done at the Nordic level. LGBTI organisations from all of the Nordic countries have been engaged in the process which is intended to lead to proposals for how the Nordic Council of Ministers can work on improving conditions for LGBTI people.

Masculinity in focus

During the year, the Nordic Council of Ministers will conduct a range of activities in the field of gender equality. In June, for example, a seminar will be held in Greenland on violence in intimate relationships and in September the Nordic Council of Ministers will be involved in organising international conferences in Estonia and Latvia. Later in the autumn, a conference will also be held on the manosphere on the internet: men organising themselves and cultivating hyper-conservative, misogynistic ideas about masculinity.

Issues related to masculinity and work to counter gender-based violence have had a given place in Nordic cooperation on gender equality for many years. According to Kira Appel, new issues keep turning up within these areas. She relates this to the forthcoming Commission on the Status of Women in New York:

“I think it’s important that in the Nordic countries, where we have worked with gender issues for a long time, we can highlight new problems as they emerge. I also hope that we will be able to highlight how important it is to continue to work with the Beijing Platform and counteract the backlash that is now apparent around the world,” she says.

Nordic focus on the gender effect of parental leave at CSW63

It’s only when women and men share family responsibilities equally that we can achieve economic gender equality. This is the message of the Nordic ministers for gender equality at the UN Commission on the Status of Women, CSW63. Iceland’s Prime Minister Katrín Jakobsdóttir will be initiating joint Nordic efforts to reach the UN Agenda 2030’s goal on gender equality.

The sixty-third session of the Commission on the Status of Women, CSW63, will take place at the United Nations Headquarters in New York, starting March 11. This year CSW examines how countries can incorporate gender equality into their social protection infrastructures – a precondition for ensuring women and men’s equal rights. NIKK will be there following the debates and The Nordic ministers are hosting several events.

Social infrastructure plays a crucial role

How a country’s social infrastructure is built up is crucial for gender equality. The Nordic countries can evidence the results of decades of investment in childcare, care for the elderly, and parental leave. It is, among other things, greater participation of women in the labor market, more men taking parental leave that anywhere else in the world, and a substantial boost to the growth in GDP.

“Generous shared parental leave and universal childcare are investments that can help to ensure a better future for all of us”, says Katrín Jakobsdóttir, Prime Minister of Iceland, the country which has topped the Global Gender Gap Index for ten consecutive years.

Economic equality requires equality at home

Although the Nordic region has advanced infrastructure for gender equality, even Nordic moms are affected by “the motherhood penalty” – women’s economic loss through becoming a parent. The right to paid parental leave is important, but especially if this is shared equally between parents. Women and men need to #SharetheCare. Closing the gender pay gap between parents requires an equal distribution of responsibility for children, unpaid housework, and family responsibility, as indicated by research. This will be the topic of the Nordic ministers for gender equality’s debate at the UN on 12 March. With particular emphasis on men and fathers, the ministers will debate which political instruments are required to achieve full gender equality. The debate will be livestreamed by UN Web TV.

On March 13 a Nordic panel of experts will also discuss solutions to the pension gap between men and women. The Nordic governments are also preparing to give a joint statement at this year’s CSW to mark their commitment to and active support of the gender equality goal in the UN Agenda 2030.

Focus on men and gender equality in Tórshavn in June

In June, the Nordic region will join forces on gender equality as they meet for two days of events in Tórshavn in the Faeroe Islands. The focus will be the role of men in promoting gender equality and its development in Iceland and the Faeroe Islands. The Icelandic presidency of the Nordic Council of Ministers together with the Prime Minister’s Office in Iceland and the Ministry of Social Affairs in the Faroe Islands will play host to these events.

A barbershop event entitled Mobilizing Men and Boys for Gender Equality will be held on 11 June, and the West Nordic conference Equality at Home and at Work on 12 June. The conference will be opened by the Faroe Islands Prime Minister Aksel V. Johannesen and many of the Faroe Islands ministers are listed in the conference programme.

Gary Barker, psychologist and founder of the international organisation Promundo, will also be one of the keynote speakers. Promundo works to counter destructive masculinity norms by engaging men and boys in efforts for gender equality. The programme also features a number of researchers focusing on the West Nordic area, as well as policymakers and actors from the private sector, who will present lessons learned and examples from their work for gender equality in Iceland and the Faroe Islands.

West Nordic cooperation is important for gender equality efforts

The conference has taken its cue from the Nordic Prime Ministers’ initiative, the Nordic Gender Effect, which demonstrates the importance of well-functioning social infrastructure to achieving gender equality. The Faroe Islands are facing similar challenges in relation to gender equality as the rest of the Nordic region. However, Jeanette Ellefsen Blaasvaer, Senior Adviser to the Ministry for Social Affairs in the Faroe Islands and one of the organisers of the conference, believes that traditional gender roles are particularly marked in the Faroe Islands. Men earn two thirds of the Faroe Islands’ total salaries, women largely work part-time, and few men take parental leave.

“It’s important that everyone understands the value of a society where there is gender equality – on the individual plane as well as in the society as a whole. We want to engage men in these efforts and make it clear to them that gender equality has benefits for all. We need to change the way people think about gender roles and norms,” says Jeanette.

Iceland and the Faroe Islands have cooperated closely for a long time. These two societies are similar in many ways and, according to Jeanette, the exchange with Iceland is important to gender equality efforts in the Faroe Islands.

“Gender equality efforts have progressed further in Iceland and there are many lessons to be learned from there. For example, regarding how Iceland has worked on issues such as equal pay and shared parental insurance, there’s a lot we can learn and be inspired by.”

Equal pay for equal work and equal rights to care and work are some of the issues that will be discussed in Tórshavn in June, along with themes such as gender segregation in the labour market and the norms surrounding gender roles.

#MeToo Moving forward: International conference on combatting sexual harassment

What impact has the #MeToo movement had so far and how do we move forward? These are some of the issues discussed at the international conference #MeToo Moving forward in Reykjavik 17-19 of September. The conference is a part of the Icelandic Presidency of the Nordic Council of Ministers in 2019 and is organised in collaboration with RIKK, Institute for Gender, Equality and Difference at the University of Iceland.

Since the #MeToo movement gained traction in 2017 millions of people have used the hashtag #MeToo on social media across the world. Anonymously or not, they have revealed epidemic levels of harassment, violence and everyday sexism. They have called upon people in position of power to act and to help bring an end to gender inequality and systematic sexism. In some countries the impact of #MeToo has been minimal while in others the movement has led to a robust review of structural inequalities, within specific sectors or in society at large. The impact of #MeToo has been significantly different amongst the Nordic countries, which normally rank high on gender equality indexes.

The conference will explore the #MeToo movement in an international context. Why did the movement gain such momentum in 2017 and what was the different impact on sectors, societies and countries? What does #MeToo tell us about the intersections of gender, sex, race, class, religion, ethnicity, age, disability and sexualities? What impact will #MeToo have on gender equality in the Nordic countries and beyond?

Scholars, politicians and activists from all around the world will gather for the conference in Reykjavik. Speakers include high-level representation from politics as well as research and the civil society. The well-known professors and feminist writers Angela Davis and Cynthia Enloe are some of the many speakers and all of the Nordic ministers for gender equality will be gathered for a panel discussion.

#MeToo Moving forward is a part of the Icelandic Presidency of the Nordic Council of Ministers in 2019. The conference is free of charge and open to the public, but registration is necessary. Registration closes on 10 September 2019.

The world of work tomorrow the focus at Future of Work conference in Reykjavik

The Future of Work conference to be held in Iceland in April will take up pressing issues concerning the world of work in the future. The Future of Work is a joint conference of the International Labour Organization (ILO) and the Nordic Council of Ministers. The Icelandic presidency of the Nordic Council of Ministers will be hosting the conference, where a large number of international actors in the field will gather in the Harpa Concert and Conference Centre in Reykjavik on 4–5 April.

During the conference, gender equality and the roles of social actors in the labour market will be discussed in relation to the future of work. The focus will be on how a changing world of work is impacting the Nordic countries and their labour market models, as well as the measures needed to be able to achieve gender equality and sustainability in the world of work. The issue of equal pay regardless of sex will also be a key theme.

In 2016, the Nordic Council of Ministers and the ILO began cooperating on gender equality in the world of work in the future as part of the ILO’s Women at Work centenary initiative. It is one of the seven initiatives for social justice that the ILO and all its member states are to work with and specifically address in connection with the ILO’s centenary this year.

As a response to both Women at Work and Future of Work, both of which are ILO centenary initiatives, an extensive research project on what working life in the Nordic Countries might be like around 2030 was launched by the Nordic countries’ ministers for employment. It involves a large number of Nordic researchers under the leadership of the Norwegian social science research foundation Fafo. During the conference in Reykjavik, the findings from the research project Future of Work: Opportunities and Challenges for the Nordic Models will be presented and serve as the basis for discussions on policy measures, the role of ILO and other international organisations in the world of work in the future, and on how the Nordic model can respond to a changing world of work.

Three previous conferences on gender equality in working life have been held in the Nordic countries as part of the ILO centenary initiative by Finland, Norway and Sweden, at the time when each country held the rotating presidency of the Nordic Council of Ministers. These previous conferences focused on issues such as employment relationships, international standards and parental leave.

Latest updated 14 October 2019