New Network for Men’s Gender Equality Work

Men’s engagement in the gender equality work makes the Nordic countries stand out internationally. ‘Many people see us as more radical,’ says Tomas Agnemo, coordinator of the new Nordic branch of the MenEngage network. The network gathers Nordic organisations focusing on men, masculinities and gender equality.

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<strong”>Why is this cooperation needed?
‘We need to share ideas and strategies since a lot of our work is so new. What works and what doesn’t? That’s what we need to talk about. Men’s engagement in gender equality issues is completely new in many countries, but our organisation Men for Gender Equality Sweden was founded in 1993. We are one of the oldest – if not the oldest – organisation in the world that focuses on men and gender equality. Our partner organisations in the other Nordic countries have also worked in the field for a long time and are therefore important to us. We have a lot in common and stand out internationally. Just looking at other EU countries makes you realise that the view of gender and gender equality can be so fundamentally different.’

Are there differences also among the Nordic countries?

Tomas Agnemo. Foto: Män för jämställdhet

Tomas Agnemo. Photo: Män för jämställdhet

‘We agree on a lot of things but the progress made differs in many areas. The countries have prioritised different topics, to some extent. For example, Iceland has pushed the issue of parental leave more aggressively than others while other countries have focused more on violence.’

The network consists of four organisations. How similar are they?
‘Like I said, we have a lot in common but there are also differences. We for example have different views on the role of men in the feminist movement. In Men for Gender Equality Sweden, we refer to ourselves as a feminist organisation while others prefer to say they are pro-feminist. As long as we live in a patriarchy it is important that men are aware of their power position in society and that we team up with the women’s movement and feminism without taking up too much space, so to speak.’

In Men for Gender Equality you take a norm critical approach to men and masculinities. Can you describe this work?
‘At our workshops we talk a lot about “stepping out of the man-box” and discovering the full range of humanity. Men are for example often lonely and have a hard time asking for help if they’re not doing well. This has to do with masculinity norms. Stepping out of the man-box means leaving your comfort zone, which can be really hard. We need to support and help each other as it may be difficult to do it alone.’

What’s the goal with the new network?
‘We hope the network is the start of permanent cooperation where we can share experiences and project ideas. Maybe we can even launch projects together.’

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This is an article about one of the projects granted funding through the Nordic Gender Equality Fund.


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