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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.