Nordic co-operation on gender equality and LGBTI issues

Equal opportunities and a good work-life balance are not just a matter of rights – they are good for the economy. Promoting gender equality has helped generate prosperity in the Nordic countries. Affordable childcare, education and parental leave for both mothers and fathers have enhanced well-being and triggered economic growth. Meet six people who are balancing their lives – at home and at work. This is #NordicEquality

Gender equality is one of the areas in which the Nordic countries have worked together most closely, and this has helped make the Nordic Region one of the most gender-equal places in the world. Until recently, equal rights for LGBTI people were not part of this official Nordic co-operation. However, in January 2020, the ministers initiated co-operation on the equal rights, treatment, and opportunities of LGBTI people in the Nordic Region.

Through the Nordic Council of Ministers for Gender Equality and LGBTI (MR-JÄM), the Nordic ministers for gender equality are responsible for inter-governmental co-operation.

In between ministerial meetings, the Nordic Committee of Senior Officials for Gender Equality and LGBTI (EK-JÄM) prepares questions for discussion by MR-JÄM and follows up on matters in a number of priority policy areas.

The shared culture, history, and democratic traditions of the Nordic countries have facilitated close and constructive co-operation on gender equality and LGBTI issues.

In 1974, the Nordic Council of Ministers decided that each government would appoint someone to maintain contact with the other governments on gender equality issues. A few years later, they drew up an action programme for co-operation on gender equality issues and a committee of senior officials was set up. In 2020, this was expanded to include the rights of LGBTI people. LGBTI is an acronym for lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans, and intersex. Although the abbreviations used in the various Nordic countries may differ, LGBTI is the acronym used in all official Nordic co-operation as it is equivalent to what is used in other international organisations.

Now that LGBTI issues have been incorporated into the work of the Nordic Council of Ministers, it will be easier for the governments to learn from each other, develop initiatives that work, and act as a strong united voice internationally. Working together, the Nordic countries can be a leading force for the protection and promotion of LGBTI rights in the world. The first step in the new co-operation was a mapping exercise and analysis of the current LGBTI situation in the Nordic Region. In the future, work on LGBTI issues will be guided by the strategic focus areas developed in the co-operation programme.

None of the Nordic countries has achieved gender equality, and there is always something that the other countries can be inspired by. If we look at the Nordic countries, the Faroe Islands, Greenland, and Åland as a group, it is easier to see that progress towards a more gender-equal society has been constant since the 1970s.

International studies regularly rank the Nordic countries as among the most gender-equal in the world. Similar trends are emerging in relation to the LGBTI situation. However, statistics and studies of the distribution of power show that there is still plenty of work to do.

This page contains links to the current policy programmes for co-operation on equality between the sexes, as well as a broad range of information about the current state of gender equality and LGBTI work in the Nordic Region and how it is being developed.


Nordic Council of Ministers’ action plan for Vision 2030

The action plan describes what the Nordic Council of Ministers will do to achieve the objectives of the vision through a series of initiatives linked to the vision’s three strategic priorities: a green Nordic Region, a competitive Nordic Region, and a socially sustainable Nordic Region. There are 12 objectives linked to the strategic priorities. The strategic priorities and objectives will govern all the activities of the Nordic Council of Ministers over the next four years. The action plan is divided into 12 sections, each one linked to one of the 12 objectives.

A tool in the action plan: The Nordic Council of Ministers’ policy for integrating sustainable development, gender equality, and a children’s rights and youth perspective

Sustainable development, gender equality, and a children’s rights and youth perspective must permeate everything that the Nordic Council of Ministers does. The integration or mainstreaming of these perspectives is a condition of achieving the Nordic Council of Ministers’ vision of the Nordic Region as the most sustainable and integrated region in the world by 2030.

In practice this means that sustainable development, gender equality, and a children’s rights and youth perspective must systematically influence all of the Nordic Council of Ministers’ activities. The perspective must play a part in every stage of planning, decision-making, implementation, and evaluation. Responsibility lies with the employees and stakeholders who normally participate in the work.

The Nordic Council of Ministers’ policy for mainstreaming clarifies the preconditions needed for Vision 2030 and for making the Nordic Region greener, more competitive, and more socially sustainable. These preconditions ensure that the Nordic Council of Ministers’ work is sustainable, gender-equal, inclusive, representative, and accessible. The policy also focuses on an approach that is in line with international obligations, including the UN sustainable development goals, the UN Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women, and the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child – an approach that is a prerequisite to a Nordic sustainability agenda that excludes no one.

Gender Equality in Figures 2021

In Gender Equality in Figures, you can find the latest gender statistics for the Nordic Region. Thirty-three indicators show how far the region has come and the challenges that still exist in relation to demographics, family and social care, health, education, the labour market, income, power, and diversity. It is hoped that the publication will be of benefit to those looking for reliable and comparative data on gender equality in the Nordic Region.