The labour market is clearly gendered and the pay gap between women and men remains. Both of these factors affect the power of women and men to shape society and their lives. The Nordic Council of Ministers has therefore chosen to focus on the labour market as a prioritised area in the gender equality work during the period 2011-2014.
Some of the Nordic Council of Ministers’ activities in the area are described below.
Part-time work in the Nordic region
One challenge in the work to achieve a gender-equal labour market is that women work part time to a greater extent than men in the Nordic countries. Against this background, the Nordic Council of Ministers has initiated Part-Time Work in the Nordic Region – a two-year project led by NIKK.
The differences in working time affect the economic opportunities for women and men at the individual level, but also affect the gender equality in the labour market in a wider sense. For example, the pattern of women being more likely than men to work part time and staying home with children may affect how employers view women and men when recruiting workers.
In autumn 2013, the results from the project Part-Time Work in the Nordic Region were presented at a conference in Stockholm, and a report titled Part-Time Work – Gender and Economic Distribution in the Nordic Countries was released at the end of the year. According to the report, 36 per cent of all employed Norwegian 25-64-year-old women work part time. This is a higher proportion than in any other Nordic country. Part-time work is relatively unusual among men across the Nordic region.
NIKK is following up the project in 2014 with a focus on finding explanations to why the pattern differs between women and men. In this second phase, the project will also identify initiatives taken on the political arena and by the actors in the labour market. The results will be presented in a report and at a conference in Reykjavik on 12 November 2014.
Cooperation to reduce the pay gap
The principle of same-work, same-pay has still not been achieved in the Nordic region. In addition, the traditionally female-dominated jobs are still being paid less than traditionally male-dominated jobs. During the Norwegian Presidency in 2012, the Nordic Council of Ministers established a network to assess and exchange knowledge concerning how the Nordic countries are handling the pay gap between women and men.
The Nordic Council of Ministers has identified the gender pay gap as an indicator of sustainable development. In 2011, women in the Nordic countries earned an average of 15-16 per cent less than men. In Finland, the gap is a little larger, about 19 per cent, according to statistics from the Nordic Statistical Institute.
Conference on pay differences
In 2014, the gender pay gap will be in focus at a conference in Reykjavik on 13 November. The purpose of the conference is to assess different measures that have been taken to reduce the pay gap, and to discuss good examples.
Gender equality in the West Nordic labour market
The unique conditions in the western Nordic region imply important challenges when it comes to gender equality in family and working life. These challenges will be acknowledged in May 2014 at a conference in Faroe Islands.