What’s the most important feminist issue right now?
What’s the most important feminist issue right now? And what needs to be done?
Since Sunday is International Women’s Day, NIKK asked researchers, politicians, activists and debaters from across the Nordic region. Read their responses below.
‘The most important issue is how we can help liberate minority women. I’m thinking in particular of women who don’t have any networks, who don’t speak the language in the country they have settled in, who live with violent men and who are forced to endure physical and mental abuse. These are the women we should help deal with their gender-related limitations.’
Amal Aden, author and lecturer focusing on the rights of women and children
‘Feminism has taught us to define power structures between genders, groups, nations and countries. We need to focus on the connection between different forms of oppression. We need to inform and educate so that more people can see and work against the power structures. In the labour market it’s about pay differences, violence and different career opportunities.’
Drífa Snædal, general secretary Federation of General and Special Workers in Iceland
‘Equal pay, shared parental leave, equal representation, equal treatment and equal pensions for women and men. I could go on and on. However, power analyses and measures to ensure equal distribution of our common resources are probably at the very top of the list. We need a gender perspective, a norm-critical perspective and an intersectional perspective in this work.’
Mia Hanström, chair of Åland’s feminist umbrella network
‘Maybe education and the way children grow up. All children have the right to security and to positive response and support without gender stereotypes. Every person should get to decide over his or her own body, name and legal gender. This is not possible unless parents, teachers, doctors, coaches etc. have the necessary norm-critical competence. Laws also need to be changed, like the transgender act.’
Aija Salo, secretary general of the Finnish organisation for LGBT rights Seta
‑ As a Sámi woman and Indigenous feminist, the most important issue for me is self-determination for Indigenous women. Indigenous peoples must be in charge of their own affairs. Indigenous women must be in charge of their own lives and bodies. Gendered violence against Indigenous women is a self-determination issue, and Indigenous self-determination is a gender justice issue. Rauna Kuokkanen, Sámi from Ohcejohka (Utsjoki), Northern Finland. Associate Professor of Political Science and Aboriginal Studies at the University of Toronto.
‘We in the north must let go of the image of ourselves as highly equal. It gives us a rhetoric that has no room for all the work that remains. Okay, we are more equal than Saudi Arabia, but we must remember that we have genital mutilation, forced marriages and widespread discrimination also in Norway.’
Hilde Sofie Pettersen, editor of the feminist publication Fett
‘That society makes a serious attempt to deal with men’s violence and hatred. The violence and hatred against feminists and antiracists, the hatred against women, the hatred against animals and nature. It’s men who are doing all of this, and it’s masculinity norms and men that need to change. Society needs to take this seriously and undertake broad violence-prevention work aimed to change the prevailing masculinity norms.’
Tomas Agnemo, director Men for Gender Equality
‘One of the biggest problems in the work to achieve greater gender equality in the Danish society is that the environment for discussion is so inflamed. It is practically impossible to have a constructive debate on gender equality measures – even if you present nice cost-benefit analyses showing that we would all gain from it.’
Birgit Søderberg, Lokk – the national organisation of women’s shelters in Denmark
‘The possibility for women to provide for themselves is crucial, which means that their position in the labour market has to be strengthened with a right to full-time work and equal pay. Women’s right to their own bodies is also key. Men’s violence against women, rape, prostitution and human trafficking are the ultimate consequences of an unequal society.’
Carina Ohlsson, chair Social Democratic Women in Sweden and member of the Swedish Parliament
‑ We should be able to make feminism mainstream way of thinking in our societies. Even Nordic countries which are considered most equal societies in the world, have problems like gender wage gaps and different glass ceilings. It’s important to break problematic traditional gender roles, challenge heteronormative thinking and take into account needs of different minorities. Ozan Yanar, Co-chairman of the Youth Greens in Finland
‘I grew up in the 1970s and needless to say, the world was different back then. There was this healthy unisex approach to for example clothing and hobbies. I think kids have a very open attitude to gender equality, and that should of course be encouraged. The distinction between what’s masculine and what’s feminine begins way too early.’
Peter Sandström, Finnish-Swedish author living in Turku
‑ For me, feminism is an ideology of freedom to be what we are and to be able to use and develop our individual skills. I would like to see feminism grow more inclusive. Currently, most feminist talk is way too academic. That makes feminism sound more difficult than it is. We should focus on mainstreaming equality instead of arguing of nuances. Feminism benefits everyone. That’s surely a message worth sharing! Amu Urhonen, Green feminist and disability activist
‘How the development of family formation and family law in the Nordic countries can be based on zero tolerance for violence and abuse as well as recognition of and respect for the importance of reproductive aspects. An investigation of the area should be undertaken immediately. See more on Nordictour2014.dk.’
Pia Deleuran, lawyer and mediator focusing on advanced conflict management. Deleuran has a special interest in equality, legal security and human rights issues.
‑ Violence against women. Almost a third of all Finnish women have experienced physical or sexual abuse in a relationship but the cases are not often reported. We need: 1) more awareness of the issue 2) accessible services, e.g. shelters, for victims 3) to stop mediation in close relationships 4) funding and resources for governmental action plan 5) political will for all the aforementioned. Kirsi Marttinen, Secretary General for Finnish Centre Women. Executive committee member, National Council for Gender Equality.
‘One of the most important feminist issues in the Faroe Islands right now is the lack of role models. We have our parliamentary election this year, and although Faroese women have been able to vote for almost 100 years, we have only one woman in our government. The proportion of women in Faroese politics has increased, but we need women in the most important positions as well.’
Katrin Kallsberg, chair of the Faroese national gender equality committee, consultant in obstetrics and gynaecology at the National Hospital of the Faroe Islands, Tórshavn, Faroe Islands
‘Racified women and girls lack influence in Nordic decision-making bodies, and as a result of this we often see a lack of a multidimensional perspective on gender equality policy in the region. Women’s struggle is a struggle for rights and equality. As racism discriminates people in society, the struggle against racism is also a women’s struggle.’
Fakhra Salimi, leader of the MiRA Resource Center for Black, Immigrant and Refugee Women
‘Sexual harassment was included under the gender equality act following the legal amendment in 2013, making such conduct illegal. Greenland’s gender equality council will bring focus to this type of harassment, which is defined as any unwanted conduct of a sexual nature with the effect or purpose of violating, humiliating, discriminating against or impair the person
Inge Olsvig Brandt, Greenland’s gender equality council
- Text: NIKK
- Categories: Gender equality and welfare policy
- Published: 2015-03-06