In an international perspective, the Nordic countries have come a long way in their gender equality efforts. The progress is evident in areas such as health, political power and women’s access to education. Nevertheless, a lot of work remains. To get a better understanding of the current situation, the Nordic Council of Ministers has initiated a cooperation project between the Nordic statistics offices. A working group has been tasked to develop statistics on gender and gender equality and make the information available to a broader public.
‘The statistics will help inform the political decision making, and will also be used to spread knowledge about the Nordic gender equality work,’ says Linn Mårtens, gender equality adviser to the Nordic Council of Ministers.
Difficult to compare statistics on violence
The cooperation between the Nordic statistics offices started in the summer of 2014. Since then, the working group, which consists of one representative from each country, has been meeting to compile the statistics. When the statistics offices’ own information has not been enough, the working group has used other sources, such as NOMESCO, the committee for health statistics in the Nordic countries, and the UN organ UNECE (Economic Commission for Europe).
‘We have come up with some good data on for example income, parental leave and gender distribution on company boards,’ says Annemette Lindhardt Olsen, who is leading the group.
Some areas have been more difficult to work with. Men’s violence against women is one example.
‘The national statistics on violence are based on observations that can’t be compared with each other. We can’t just look at police reports either, since many victims never contact the police,’ says Lindhardt Olsen.
Publishing the results
The results of the work will be published in a report titled Nordic Gender Equality in Figures 2015, which will be presented at the UN women’s conference in New York in early March. The easy-to-read report will be divided into separate areas, including health, education, labour market and influence/power. The statistics will show both development over time and differences and similarities between countries, such as that the income gap between women and men is smallest in Denmark and that women’s unpaid work at home has decreased in all Nordic countries since the year 2000.
‘The report will be used in international contexts. The Nordic countries have come a long way when it comes to gender equality and may help inspire other countries,’ says Lindhardt Olsen.
New website with gender equality statistics
Statistics from the Nordic countries are already available in the Nordic Statistics database, but gender equality is not included as a separate subject area. The new statistical material will be added shortly. Also, a new webpage will be added at norden.org on 15 September. The new page will present the gender equality statistics with descriptive text, data and graphs.
Lindhardt Olsen says that one advantage with the project is that it has helped establish cooperation between officers specialising in gender equality at the Nordic statistics offices.
‘It’s important to know what one’s Nordic colleagues are doing. We can help and inspire each other. It’s about sharing knowledge. Now we’ve established close contact and can also plan future cooperation,’ she says.
Linn Mårtens at the Nordic Council of Ministers thinks it is great that all Nordic gender equality statistics are gathered in one place.
‘It means that we can refer anybody who’s interested to the website. We’ve had statistics in the past, too, but they have never been available in one place.’