The central aim of Åland’s gender equality policy is for women and men to have equal power and freedom to shape society and their own lives. In the Åland Islands, all women and men, girls and boys, shall have equal rights, opportunities and responsibilities. Gender equality is a matter of power, justice, freedom and democracy.
The central aim has been formulated in four sub-goals:
- Equal distribution of power and influence.
- Same access for women and men to education and paid work that can generate economic independence.
- Equal distribution of unpaid household and care work as well as equality in the provision and utilisation of care services.
- Freedom from gender-based violence. Women and men, girls and boys, shall have the same right to bodily integrity.
In 2016 the Government of Åland has completed a review of the Framework Programme for Gender Equality 2012–2015. The development of a new framework programme is underway.
Premier Katrin Sjögren is the person in the Government of Åland with the overarching responsibility for gender equality matters. The Office of the Government of Åland and the Gender Equality Unit are in charge of gender equality issues in the administration. The Gender Equality Unit is tasked with promoting gender mainstreaming and with coordinating and developing Åland’s gender equality policy.
The Office of the Åland Ombudsman is tasked with promoting and ensuring equal treatment by working against and preventing discrimination based on gender, ethnicity, religion or other belief system, disability, age or sexual orientation.
The Government of Åland has appointed an expert Council on Gender Equality for the period 2012-2015. Its main task is to develop the gender equality policy, add new knowledge about gender equality work and follow up and suggest measures to achieve the aims laid down in Åland‘s framework programme for gender equality. The council meets once or twice a year and consists of six experts on different aspects of gender equality.
Statistics and Research Åland has presented an annual appendix to the Government’s budget since 2012. The gendered data in the document unveils clear gender differences in for example the labour market, education, income and pensions, life expectancy and eldercare, lifestyle, illness and healthcare and the distribution of paid and unpaid work. SRÅ publishes, in cooperation with the Government of Åland, gender-related facts in the publication “Speaking of equality,” which is published every four years.
Gender mainstreaming was introduced in Åland and became part of the gender equality policy in the late 1990s within the framework of the Nordic project Gender Mainstreaming in the Nordic Region. Gender mainstreaming – that all decisions in all policy areas are to be guided by the national gender equality objectives – is the principal strategy used in the implementation of the Government of Åland’s gender equality policy.
The Government of Åland is committed to integrate a gender equality perspective in all decision making, planning and other activities, and to continuously analyse the consequences of its actions for women and men. The Government has also imposed a requirement that all legislative proposals must be assessed in a gender equality perspective, and gender mainstreaming of the government budget was introduced in 2012.
The Government and the municipalities are central in the implementation of Åland’s gender equality policy and in the work to ensure gender-equal citizen services. The Government has expressed that gender analyses are of critical importance in all policy areas in order to formulate and evaluate gender equality objectives and interventions. The framework programme for Åland’s Gender Equality Work 2012-2015 emphasised gender mainstreaming in the areas of education, the labour market, women’s safety and power, norms and identity. The gender mainstreaming work also includes the production of gendered information and statistics.
The first Gender Equality Committee was formed in 1978 and the first Gender Equality Commission in 1983. The gender equality commission was initially not allocated any financial resources, but eventually gained a stronger position within Åland’s administration and helped institutionalise Åland’s gender equality policy. The Commission has since been replaced with the Expert Council on Gender Equality.
The institutionalisation was further reinforced in 1986 with the Act on Equality between Women and Men and in 1989 with a provincial act regulating the application of the gender equality act. The central purpose of the Act on Equality between Women and Men is to prevent gender discrimination, promote gender equality and improve the position of women in working life. In connection with a revision of the Act in 1995, it was decided that gender equality must be promoted in all education and teaching. It was also mandated that both genders must be represented by at least 40 per cent in all local and regional public bodies. A revision in 2005 mandated that all government agencies actively promote gender equality. The provincial act 1989:27 specifies exceptions in the application of Finnish gender equality act (FFS 609/1986) in Åland.
Gender equality matters have been handled by the Department of Administrative Affairs ever since the establishment of gender equality policy at government level. The Head of the Government of Åland is currently responsible for gender equality matters. From 2005 to 2007, gender equality was placed under the Minister of Administration, Equality and EU affairs.