Nordic Cooperation for Young Feminists
Many young people are showing strong engagement in the feminist agenda. However, the awareness of women’s rights is often limited, says Stéphanie Thögersen from the Swedish Women’s Lobby. The organisation is leading a Nordic project targeting upper-secondary students.
The aim of the project A Gender Equal Nordic Region is to enable students to learn about the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women and the Beijing Platform for Action.
‘These documents may sound a bit dry, but once you read them you’ll see that there is some good stuff in there,‘ says Stéphanie Thögersen, programme manager at the Swedish Women’s Lobby.
The project is run by three organisations from Sweden, Denmark and Iceland and will result in new computer-based teaching material consisting of information, exercises and a teacher’s guide.
Why did you start the project?
‘The project is actually an extension of the Nordic Forum, which gathered 30 000 participants in Malmö, Sweden. We want to take advantage of the engagement and experiences from that weekend. One aim of the Forum was to get young people involved, and that’s what we want to keep building on. We want to spread knowledge to adolescents, along with the final document from the Nordic Forum.’
In what ways do young people lack knowledge?
‘There’s strong engagement in feminist issues, but they don’t know much about women’s rights and the commitments that the Nordic countries have made for gender equality. The Nordic governments have signed both the UN Women’s Convention and the Beijing Platform, so they have some important responsibilities to live up to. That’s good to know because the UN documents can be used as a tool to put pressure on the politicians.’
Are there any issues that are of particular importance to young people?
‘The teaching material will be based on the 12 themes of the Beijing Platform. We haven’t yet decided which topics to focus on, but some themes definitely seem more important to young people. We have for example witnessed a recent revolution against sexist advertisements in this group. We’re also seeing strong engagement against rape. Older feminists may get upset that their younger counterparts are not showing a stronger interest in equal pay and pensions, but there’s really nothing strange about it. Most people feel strongly about whatever issues are directly relevant to their lives. It’s our aim is to broaden the knowledge and increase the engagement in a number of issues related to women’s rights.’
Why do you want to run the project as a Nordic collaboration?
‘We think the development in the area of women’s rights has lost momentum, both internationally and in the Nordic countries, so we need to make a joint effort to get the ball rolling again. This was the leading idea behind the Nordic Forum and this is how we want to keep working. The Nordic countries can learn a lot from each other. For example, Iceland has introduced gender studies in over half of all upper-secondary schools, which has led to a surge of feminist engagement among young people. I think the rest of us have something to learn from that.’
The project sprang from the Nordic Forum. What did the Forum teach us?
‘A lot about it was unique. It was so incredibly big. The Nordic Forum showed that there’s strong engagement in these issues. It also showed how important it is with meetings involving all ages and actors in society. We feel strongly that we need more interaction between activists, organisations, public agencies, municipalities, businesses and politicians.’
This is an article about one of the projects granted funding through the Nordic Gender Equality Fund.
- Text: NIKK
- Categories: Gender equality and welfare policy
- Published: 2014-11-19