On the 12-15th of June, 30 000 people gathered at Nordiskt Forum Malmö 2014 – New Action on Women’s Rights, to shape strategies to promote gender equality and end discrimination against women. The forum was based on the landmark agreements of women’s rights: the Beijing Platform for Action and the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW).
The forum is the result of 200 Nordic women’s organizations’ determination to act when women’s rights are threatened in the world, in Europe and in Scandinavia. Instead of being silent and wait for others to act, the women’s movement have set ourselves in motion. Nordiskt Forum manifested our will to make the promises women were given almost twenty years ago a reality and to create a common platform for today’s issues.
During Nordiskt Forum, an action program of requirements and recommendations for women’s rights and gender equality was adopted. The plan contains 62 demands and was handed over to the Nordic governments at the end of the forum. The document is a way of reminding the governments of the commitments made when the Platform for Action from Beijing was signed.
The Nordic women’s organizations want everyone to use the final document to move forward so that all women can live a life free from fear and violence, where every woman owns her body and sexuality, where every manifestation of racism and discrimination meets resistance.
We demand that:1
The Nordic countries’ national budgets, as well as local and regional governments’ budgets be gender-mainstreamed, so that the gender perspective is visible in financial documents and decisions, and that gender equality policy goals are systematically followed up and used as a basis for new measures, and are included in the post-2015 agenda.2
The Nordic authorities promote women’s economic independence and rights, including access to paid work and satisfactory working conditions, and observe the specific needs of vulnerable groups.3
The Nordic governments implement tangible measures and follow up the work to reduce income differences between women and men.4
Unpaid care work be made visible and reflected in economic models and taken into account in socio-economic planning.5
Global economic crises be analysed from a gender perspective both in terms of causes and consequences and that welfare services be maintained to protect women’s economic independence.
We demand that:6
Funds be allocated to gender-specific research and knowledge-building on how diseases affect women, including menstruation and related disorders, to support for women with cancer diagnoses (particularly breast and female reproductive cancer), and to well-supported measures, including preventive care and treatment of women’s diseases.7
The Nordic governments and responsible authorities ensure gender equality in the diagnosis, investigation, treatment and monitoring of diseases with respect to the specific needs of different groups. Customised health care for women with disabilities is necessary.8
Healthcare and judicial systems take women’s experiences of unwanted sexual acts, abuse and violence seriously and guarantee respect for the individual’s integrity and legal rights.9
The Nordic governments and responsible authorities guarantee compulsory sex education of good quality, access to modern contraceptives, access to legal and safe abortions, as well as safe pregnancies and care during delivery, with respect for every woman’s wishes and needs.10
The Nordic authorities fulfil their important commitment to women’s sexual and reproductive health and rights, SRHR, including LHBTQ and surrogate motherhood questions in the health-related Millennium Development Goals and in the post- 2015 agenda.
We demand that:11
Women’s rights to equal pay and career opportunities be strengthened and their ability to support themselves significantly improved through tangible structural measures. The Nordic governments, employer organisations and trade unions work to establish working conditions that take family life and actual labour market conditions into account and create decent working conditions. The right to full-time employment be guaranteed by law or by agreements in countries where women’s unwanted part-time work is a widespread problem. The option of voluntary part-time employment be granted and insecure employment, such as hourly and temporary employment, be regulated to avoid abuse.12
The Nordic governments prioritise structural interventions so that financial independence after retirement is assured.13
The Nordic governments implement a parental leave system that leads to equal sharing of childcare responsibility between men and women and guarantee high quality public childcare and elderly care.14
Responsible authorities ensure that teaching materials are quality-assured from a gender perspective and that active measures be taken to alter genderstereotypical educational choices and training options in order to change the gender-segregated labour market.15
The Nordic governments prioritise women’s access to research careers. Different funding initiatives for centres of excellence must not divert funding from female-dominated education and research areas. Women’s educational choices, regardless of specialisation,should be guaranteed equivalent resources.
We demand that:16
The Nordic governments ratify the Council of Europe Convention on Preventing and Combating Violence Against Women and Domestic Violence (the Istanbul Convention). Police and judiciary personnel be educated on violence against women,and resources be allocated to crime prevention and prosecution.17
Every Nordic country appoint an independent national rapporteur on trafficking in human beings who works closely with the civil society, particularly with women’s organisations.18
The Nordic governments strengthen organisations that work for women’s right to freedom from violence and provide adequate and predictable resources, particularly to women’s refuges/shelters. Long-term, comprehensive action plans, with clearly established goals and adequate resources are needed to prevent gender violence, reduce men’s violence against women and protect vulnerable women.19
Nordic authorities focus on the root causes of violence and abuse. We propose national campaigns with a preventive focus, whereby the society shows zero tolerance towards violence and the subordination of women, and work to counteract blame and shame. The fundamental causes of violence and abuse and the reasons why women enter prostitution must be integral parts of the campaign. Information on human rights and support structures must be guaranteed to women subjected to violence. Rape shall be defined as the absence of consent.20
The Nordic governments prepare legislation on the prevention of violence against women and girls, including the criminalisation of the purchase of sex where such a law does not already exist, develop strong exit strategies to enable persons to leave prostitution and reinforce the capacity of the police and the judiciary to prosecute sex purchasers, procurers and members of organised crime.21
The Nordic governments recognise the specific needs of particularly vulnerable women, who are subjected to violence and abuse. Women with serious mental health and/or drug problems and who are subjected to abuse lack equal access to women’s shelters, and shelters are not sufficiently adapted to women with disabilities.
We demand that:22
Nordic authorities contribute to women playing active roles as innovators, organisers, teachers, leaders and ambassadors for sustainable development. Climate and environmental development aid must always, where relevant, include a gender perspective.23
Women be secured greater political participation and decision-making roles in environmental and climate work, and have at least 50 percent representation in negotiations on climate and environmental agreements.24
Nordic authorities ensure the right of Sami people, especially Sami women, to be heard on nvironmental issues in their regions.25
Nordic authorities implement stronger measures, including legislation, to speed up the reduction of harmful emissions, which are often unnecessary and costly, and ensure that the energy consumed increasingly come from renewable and sustainable energy sources.26
The Nordic governments and authorities, together with private industry assume responsibility for demonstrating the impacts of environmental pollutants, chemicals and other emissions on the society and that the effects on women are considered in legislation and in the development of a green economy and green workplaces.27
Women’s sexual and reproductive rights be protected during environmental and climate-related crises and that violence against and trafficking of women and children during natural disasters be exposed and prevented.
We demand that:28
The Nordic governments prioritise good working conditions and the health of employees in the welfare sector. Employees with a lower level of training and unlicensed employees are given the opportunity to undertake further training29
The Nordic governments emphasise the importance of increasing men’s participation in health services and care work, both the unpaid work in the home and paid work in the health and welfare sectors.30
Nordic governments prioritise education and research on the demographic shift towards a higher proportion of elderly people in the population, invest in both technical and organisational innovations and demand consistent gender mainstreaming.31
Authorities and other institutions are given the task of creating programs on how to use technological advances to improve public health. Particular consideration is given to the needs of vulnerable groups and, based on respect for the dignity of the individual, assistance is provided in order for the elderly to live independently as long as possible.
We demand that:32
The Nordic governments ensure the equal representation of women at the decision-making level in all peace processes, to prevent war, mediate in conflicts, monitor peace processes and participate in peace negotiations. The Nordic governments request that the United Nations appoint a Special Representative, responsible for promoting the right of women to be actors and decision-makers in peace and security issues.33
The Nordic governments revise, make explicit and strengthen their action plans for Resolution 1325, earmarking financial resources and promoting the participation of the civil society, especially women’s organisations cooperating in the Nordic region, to achieve the goals.34
The Nordic governments allocate funds to protect and train women refugees and increase their efforts to strengthen institutions and structures to prosecute and punish perpetrators of sexual violence during war. Victims receive active support.35
The Nordic governments take indigenous people and the environment into account in peace and security issues.36
The Nordic governments promote peace initiatives, decrease military expenditure, stop selling arms that largely affect women and children, appoint disarmament ambassadors and reinforce their active efforts to abolish nuclear weapons.
We demand that:37
The Nordic governments set clear goals for women’s real opportunity to exercise their citizenship, paying attention to the needs of and measures directed at vulnerable groups. Authorities prioritise work against cyber hate and the harassment of women politicians and other women in the public sphere.38
Political assemblies and state, regional and municipal committees, commissions, working groups and delegations ensure, for example by introducing quotas, equal representation for women and men.39
State authorities, local government, media and business-related bodies invite women as experts without being swayed by gender-stereotypical perceptions regarding the assignment’s subject matter. Women in minority groups are heard as experts.40
Women be represented at the local level and included in horizontal decision-making in all sectors, including finance and business.41
Labour market organisations take responsibility for appointing more women to senior management positions, in trade unions, employers associations and member organisations.42
All recruitment procedures, election committees and other selection bodies use clear criteria that do not discriminate against women. Political mentoring programs are initiated to increase women’s participation in politics and to reduce the number of dropouts.
We demand that:43
The Nordic governments define the division of responsibility for gender mainstreaming and anchor and specify gender mainstreaming in national laws, regulations and processes across all its policies, including appeal procedures, and adopt and fund specific measures for the effective implementation of gender mainstreaming.44
Government agencies be mandated to include a gender equality perspective in all of their activities and to properly implement gender mainstreaming, which entails training of all relevant personnel, gender budgeting and other policy processes, gender equality analyses, as well as mechanisms and procedures for monitoring.45
The Nordic governments formulate action plans with guidelines, criteria, indicators, measures, key performance indicators and gender-disaggregated data and statistics. Regular analyses are carried out, recorded and published.46
The Nordic governments use gender mainstreaming in all international commitments, including the post-2015 agenda and sustainable development goals, SDG.47
Private sector employers integrate a gender perspective in their operations.
We demand that:48
The Nordic countries recognise women’s asylum claims and become frontrunners in protecting women through clear gender-sensitive guidelines on women’s asylum grounds. All women who are in need of protection should be treated equally. Information on women’s rights will be provided as well as information on where women can seek help in the event of vulnerability.49
Women with family connection permits are granted their own residence permits that are not tied to men. The deportation of victims of abuse is stopped. Women subjected to trafficking are given protection and assistance, whether or not they are able or want to bear witness in criminal proceedings.50
The Nordic governments and authorities implement a humane refugee policy with particular consideration given to women refugees, in accordance with the UN Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees.51
Governments and authorities improve integration and training of foreign-born women with poor education levels. Illiteracy is prioritised in the educational system.52
Migrant workers and labour immigrants are guaranteed equal pay and employment conditions as native employees.
We demand that:53
The Nordic governments develop annual media barometers that give tangible proof of the participation of women in the media in terms of recruitment, management, content, perspective, etc.54
State-controlled media be given the task to develop gender equality by implementing a model for participation and non-stereotypical representation that can also be used by private media actors.55
Educational authorities and media training programs as well as teacher training programs implemen initiatives so that young people in the Nordic countries become more socially-aware media consumers, as media literacy is essential for active citizenship.56
Nordic legislation enforce prohibitions against sexist advertising and that the advertising industry be obligated to provide information on any airbrushing of images, because advertisements build on and reinforce gender-stereotyped roles that have a negative effect, particularly on young people.57
The Nordic governments prepare more effective prosecutions of violations in social media and set up an independent complaints body to deal with discrimination against women and girls in the media.
We demand that:58
The Nordic governments finance the organisations of the women’s movement at least on a par with other organisations in civil society so that feminism has an impact and true gender equality is attained in society.59
The Nordic governments ensure higher participation of women’s organisations, as dialogue partners, as critical reviewers and as actors of change in developing a transparent policy of gender equality, building on a holistic perspective. We wish for a long-term engagement in sustainable development both at the national and global levels.60
In accordance with the CEDAW and the Beijing Platform for Action, women’s organisations and civil society networks are given economic and social opportunities to participate in policy formulations at the local, national and international level.61
The Nordic governments support, financially and otherwise, collaboration between the organisations of the women’s movement at the Nordic level.62
The Nordic governments commission the women’s organisations to make the CEDAW and the Beijing Platform for Action known to the public and show their consequences for policy-making.
The Icelandic Women’s Rights Association has fought for women’s rights and gender equality since 1907.
IWRA is a member of the International Alliance of Women and the European Women’s Lobby.