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Nordic Experiences to Inspire Danish Municipalities

A new report requests more and better gender equality statistics – statistics that can be used to strengthen the Danish municipalities’ gender mainstreaming efforts. The report points to Norwegian and Swedish experiences with user-friendly targeted statistics.

Peter Ussing and Kirsten Precht. Photo: Jørgen Poulsen
 Peter Ussing and Kirsten Precht. Photo: Jørgen Poulsen

All Danish municipalities are required to gender assess their citizen services and the working conditions of the people they employ. The purpose of this requirement is to improve the gender equality in the municipal workplace and ensure that all public services are equally available to men and women. However, the report titled Mätbar jämställdhet(Measurable gender equality) from the Danish Institute for Human Rights shows that compliance with the mainstreaming requirement varies a great deal among the 98 Danish municipalities.

The reasons for the discrepancies include that the municipalities lack relevant gender equality statistics and useful indicators. Without proper metrics, it is difficult for politicians to formulate objectives and gauge development over time. Consequently, the Danish Institute for Human Rights is calling for clearer and more user-friendly statistics on gender equality. The report brings attention to Swedish and Norwegian experiences.

Connection between objectives and statistics

‘Statistics Sweden develops statistics based on the Swedish government’s gender equality objectives. They have a clear task to illuminate how the work to achieve the objectives is progressing at the national, county and municipal levels,’ says Peter Ussing, project leader at the Institute, who has edited the report together with special adviser Kirsten Precht.

In Norway, Statistics Norway has published gender equality indicators at municipal level since 1990. ‘Based on this information, each municipality is assigned a gender equality index, which shows how the municipality is doing in relation to the national average. Denmark can learn a lot from these two Nordic neighbours,’ says Ussing.

Combining statistics

Statistics Denmark, who contributed to the report, already presents extensive gender data. However, it can be difficult to draw conclusions based on the statistical material without specialist knowledge, as it for example can be necessary to combine several statistics to get a fair view of a situation. Based on the Norwegian and Swedish experiences, the report illustrates for example how three types of statistics can be combined in a useful way: gender distribution in the labour market, employment rates and share of people with higher education.

Need for legislative change

 Illustration: J Gustafson

Statistics Denmark will not be able to carry out this task successfully without legislative change and proper funding. The report therefore recommends that the politicians request that Statistics Denmark develop and disseminate gender equality statistics to the municipalities. It also recommends that Statistics Denmark, the municipalities, the Danish Ministry of Children, Gender Equality, Integration and Social Affairs and other relevant actors cooperate to establish the necessary indicators.

‘The clearer the politicians can define the objectives, the clearer and more focused and user-friendly the statistics delivered by Statistics Denmark will be. And conversely, the better the statistics, the easier it is to set goals. Denmark has been pragmatic and doesn’t share Sweden’s and Norway’s strong tradition of measuring and developing objectives in this area. The work relies on getting the statistics in place, so it’s great to get a discussion going,’ says Kirsten Precht who also wrote the introduction to gender mainstreaming in the report.

Updated 18 June 2020