Nordic meeting on gender equality in the public space

The sexualisation of the public space, hate speech, the #MeToo campaign and the need for physical meetings in the Nordic cooperation. These were some of the topics discussed when Nordic Information on Gender (NIKK) arranged a networking meeting for projects that have received funding from the Nordic Council of Ministers’ gender equality fund.

Ten organisations from six Nordic projects that in one way or another work with gender equality issues in the public space recently met in Oslo for two days. Representatives from for example Norwegian anti-discrimination ombud, the Icelandic and Danish institutes for human rights and the film and television network WIFT Nordic were there to share their knowledge and experiences. The projects discussed at the meeting concerned everything from online violence to hate speech and the representation of women in the film industry.

Online violence a growing problem

In addition to listening to the presentations of each project’s cooperation, the attendees discussed for example what needs exist at the Nordic level when it comes to networks, knowledge and policy changes in the field. One of the challenges addressed was how the legislation and law enforcement are lagging behind in the Nordic countries when it comes to online violence, which causes many victims to experience a lack of legal uncertainty.

‘Online violence is a growing problem in all Nordic countries. The legislation has not kept up with the digital development and needs to be updated. We hope to continue our work in the network in order to develop best practice in the Nordic countries and organise a large Nordic conference. There is a need to continue sharing knowledge and learning from each other,’ said Lumi Zuleta from the Danish Institute for Human Rights, who presented a project titled Nordic Network Against Sexism and Hate Speech.

The project participants from Online Violence against Women in the Nordic Countries were of the same opinion:
‘Research shows that it is absolutely vital how you treat victims when they report the violations they have experienced. The police need training and resources to be able to investigate crimes of this type,’ said Ásta Jóhannsdóttir from the Icelandic Women’s Rights Association.

The #MeToo campaign an important factor

The representatives from WIFT Nordic, Jenni Kosko and Ingebjorg Torgersen, explained the importance of the ongoing #MeToo campaign for their work to improve women’s opportunities to pursue a career in the film industry.

‘The campaign has opened doors that we have knocked on for many years. Now it’s happening,’ said Jenni Kosko.

The benefits of cooperation at the Nordic level were also discussed at the network meeting. María Bjarnadóttir from the Icelandic Human Rights Centre emphasised the importance of physical meetings in Nordic cooperation.

‘Considering Iceland’s geographic location, these types of projects are of key importance to our ability to evolve. It is very valuable to get together and share knowledge with each other.’

Important lessons to learn

This was the second time NIKK organised a network meeting for fund projects. In line with the current programme for Nordic gender equality cooperation, this year’s theme was the public space. Last year, the Finnish Presidency identified violence as one of its prioritised areas, and this was also the theme of the network meeting in 2016.

‘For two intense days, we have listened to presentations of both completed and ongoing projects. There are important lessons to learn both for us at NIKK and for the projects. It’s exciting that there is so much interest in finding new networks and forms of cooperation,’ says Elin Engstrom, head of operations at Nordic Information on Gender

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