A barbershop event entitled Mobilizing Men and Boys for Gender Equality will be held on 11 June, and the West Nordic conference Equality at Home and at Work on 12 June. The conference will be opened by the Faroe Islands Prime Minister Aksel V. Johannesen and many of the Faroe Islands ministers are listed in the conference programme.
Gary Barker, psychologist and founder of the international organisation Promundo, will also be one of the keynote speakers. Promundo works to counter destructive masculinity norms by engaging men and boys in efforts for gender equality. The programme also features a number of researchers focusing on the West Nordic area, as well as policymakers and actors from the private sector, who will present lessons learned and examples from their work for gender equality in Iceland and the Faroe Islands.
West Nordic cooperation is important for gender equality efforts
The conference has taken its cue from the Nordic Prime Ministers’ initiative, the Nordic Gender Effect, which demonstrates the importance of well-functioning social infrastructure to achieving gender equality. The Faroe Islands are facing similar challenges in relation to gender equality as the rest of the Nordic region. However, Jeanette Ellefsen Blaasvaer, Senior Adviser to the Ministry for Social Affairs in the Faroe Islands and one of the organisers of the conference, believes that traditional gender roles are particularly marked in the Faroe Islands. Men earn two thirds of the Faroe Islands’ total salaries, women largely work part-time, and few men take parental leave.
“It’s important that everyone understands the value of a society where there is gender equality – on the individual plane as well as in the society as a whole. We want to engage men in these efforts and make it clear to them that gender equality has benefits for all. We need to change the way people think about gender roles and norms,” says Jeanette.
Iceland and the Faroe Islands have cooperated closely for a long time. These two societies are similar in many ways and, according to Jeanette, the exchange with Iceland is important to gender equality efforts in the Faroe Islands.
“Gender equality efforts have progressed further in Iceland and there are many lessons to be learned from there. For example, regarding how Iceland has worked on issues such as equal pay and shared parental insurance, there’s a lot we can learn and be inspired by.”
Equal pay for equal work and equal rights to care and work are some of the issues that will be discussed in Tórshavn in June, along with themes such as gender segregation in the labour market and the norms surrounding gender roles.