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How have the Nordic countries reacted to #metoo?

How have the Nordic countries reacted to #metoo?

| Text: Björn Lindahl

The Nordic countries have put the questions raised by the metoo-movement high on the agenda, not only for the ministers of gender equality, but for all ministers.

“#Metoo was a Nordic wake-up call. Women and girls in all their diversity have broken the silence on the sexual harassment and violence that is taking place across all layers of society and in all parts of our community,” Paula Lehtomäki, Secretary General of the Nordic Council of Ministers, told the #metoo conference in Reykjavik.

On an international level, the Nordic countries have supported the International Labour Organisation’s ground-breaking convention against sexual harassment and violence at work.

“Another important international legal instrument is the Council of Europe’s Recommendation on preventing and combating sexism adopted earlier this year,” said Paula Lehtomäki.

The Nordic countries have also strengthened their own legislation. 

According to the Nordic Information on Gender, NIKK, these are some of the Nordic initiatives that have emerged in the wake of #metoo:

Denmark has amended its anti-discrimination act. The law now explicitly states that equal working conditions also means a ban on sexual harassment. The average level for victims of sexual harassment has been raised by one third.

Finland’s new government has stated that it is committed to act against harassment and threats. It has published a guidebook for workplaces on how to prevent and intervene in sexual harassment, which has reached thousands of employers in the country. A special #metoo-report has been made, investigating the film industry. 

Iceland has appointed an expert group on gender-based violence. A proposal now discussed is a ban on employing individuals convicted of sexual offences. A complete bill is anticipated in the autumn of 2020.

Norway has introduced a low threshold service for hearing cases of sexual harassment. The aim is to give individuals who have been victims of sexual harassments a cost-free alternative to court proceedings.

Sweden has tasked the Swedish National Agency for Education with reviewing changes in the curriculum to better support sex education. Awareness campaigns targeting young people have been launched and new sexual offences legislation states that voluntary consent must be given for sex.

These are only a few of the initiatives. A Nordic tour of events was organised in all eight countries. From Nuuk in Greenland to Helsinki in Finland, artists, writers, influencers and actors shared their experiences, bringing awareness and knowledge to our communities. But more knowledge is still needed.

“That is why we have decided to fund a Nordic Research Project on sexual harassment at work. The results will be crucial in the development of measures to eliminate all forms of sexual harassment and gender-based violence in our societies,” said Paula  Lehtomäki.



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Paula Lehtomäki, Secretary General of the Nordic Council of Ministers, was one of the speakers as the Nordic minsiters for equality met in Iceland. Prime Minister Katrín Jakobsdóttir also holds the equality portfolio in Iceland's government.


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