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The Nordic DNA

| By Berit Kvam

More than 90 percent of Nordic women prefer to work outside of the home, according to the ILO survey which was presented at the Global Gender Dialogue conference during the labour ministers’ meeting in Helsinki. Luckily. Nordic women’s participation in the labour market is unique. Is there then anything we could learn from women in completely different parts of the world?

The Nordic region has spent more than forty years working together on gender equality. That is why the ILO wants to listen to the Nordic experiences. The Nordics are in the lead when it comes to work participation rates, but could learn some tricks about women in leadership roles from countries like Bangladesh. That became clear during the joint ILO and labour ministers’ conference, where gender equality was discussed during the summit with the ministers and global experts. 

You need high employment levels to have high levels of welfare. There is also a link between work and well-being. Figures from Gallup show the Nordic region in the lead on well-being. The negative side to living somewhere where a job is taken for granted, is that long term unemployment can feel like a very serious thing, more serious than the loss of a partner, says Andrew Rzepa from Gallup in Nordic men blind to women’s working life challenges.

It is worth noting this, since long term unemployment is a problem in the Nordic region too, not least in Finland according to the OECD. One of the challenges which Norway wants to focus on during its 2017 Presidency of the Nordic Council of Ministers, is how to get more young people with psychological health problems into education or work.

The Nordic cooperation is always developing. But it does not look like the labour ministers will introduce mandatory continuing and further education in the near future, like Poul Nielsson suggests in his review of the Nordic labour market. The word obligatory did not sit well with the ministers.

Women’s employment shows the importance of work when it comes to welfare. The most pressing issue for the labour ministers is the integration of refugees into the labour market. In this month’s Theme we focus on this in a report from Denmark, which shows how Roskilde municipality has been thinking outside of the box in order to quickly get refugees into jobs. “Quicker into jobs” was the refrain also among the Nordic labour ministers in Helsinki. Danish policies differ somewhat from the ones adapted by Norway and Sweden. Here, politicians have worked with the social partners to make sure refugees get paid according to collective agreements. In Refugees as labour market resource, you can read about how Nordic labour ministers exchange measures and policies in order to find the best solutions for how to best meet the challenges. 

ILO Deputy Director General Deborah Greenfield in Portrait says she was impressed with the dialogue between the ministers. She also noticed how obvious the tripartite cooperation seems to be to them.

“It is remarkable,” she thinks.

“It is a part of the Nordic DNA.”

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