The central aim of the Faroese gender equality policy is to achieve a change in attitudes so that women and men can have the same opportunities to shape their lives.
The country’s vision is to become a gender-equal community (ligestillingssamfund), where men and women have the same opportunities to participate and take responsibility in all parts of society.
In the autonomous government of the Faroe Islands, the Minister of Social Affairs is in charge of gender equality matters.
The Faroese government has an advisory committee for gender equality matters (Javnstøðunevndin). Its primary task is to ensure compliance with the gender equality legislation from 1994, combat gender discrimination and ensure everyone’s equal opportunities regardless of gender. Government agencies, organisations and individuals can contact the committee for advice on gender equality issues. It also handles complaints and can take initiatives to address any situation it sees needs attention. The members of the committee are appointed by the minister in charge, and both the central labour market actors and the women’s organisations are represented.
In response to the low share of women in politics and following a recommendation in 1999 by the West-Nordic Council, the Faroese parliament (Færøske Lagting) decided to appoint a committee with representatives from all political parties. The committee was named Demokratia and has as a central goal to increase the proportion of women in Faroese politics. Ever since its formation in 2006, Demokratia and the gender equality committee Javnstøðunevndin have brought attention to women’s participation in politics in connection with various events and debates.
Gender mainstreaming was introduced in the Faroe Islands in the late 1990s within the framework of the Nordic mainstreaming project Gender Mainstreaming in the Nordic Region. Knowledge about gender mainstreaming as a method to strengthen the impact of gender equality objectives in all policy areas was dispersed at a gender equality policy seminar in 2010. A UN report from 2009 concerning the Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination against Women recommends increased gender mainstreaming in the Faroese gender equality policy work.
Faroese gender equality policy has been characterised by late entry of women in the political arena and late institutionalisation of gender equality policy, compared with the Nordic countries. The institutionalisation was initiated in connection with a legislative proposal presented (and rejected) in the Faroese legislative assembly, the Løgting, in 1988. The next proposal was successfully submitted in 1994. In connection with the introduction of the act on equality between women and men in 1994, the government also established a gender equality council. The primary purpose of the act is to eliminate all gender discrimination.