Report from the Gender Equality Event in Malmö

By Nurangez Abdulhamidova from Tajikistan

I graduated from Linköping University, Master’s Programme in International and European Relations. Currently I work at Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE), Office in Tajikistan. Last year I was appointed as a Gender Focal Point (GFP) for my department. In this role I have the responsibility for GFP along with my main duties.

In our office, each department has its own GFP. Gender Focal Points are appointed in each field operation and Institution of the OSCE, as well as all departments of the Organization’s Secretariat. Together we form the Gender Focal Points Network within the Organization. The Organization has its own Action Plan for the Promotion of Gender Equality.

The Gender Focal Points are tasked with raising awareness and supporting OSCE staff in the mainstreaming of gender issues in different policies and projects. Gender mainstreaming is about promotion and implementation of fundamental principles of justice and equality—or in other words the justice for and equality between women and men. The ultimate goal of gender mainstreaming is to achieve gender equality.

Participation in the Gender Equality event in Sweden was of a high relevance to me both professionally and personally. I was interested in attending this event as it would contribute to my professional development as a Gender Focal Point. I would have a chance to learn the best practices implemented in Sweden in gender mainstreaming and gender equality policy and enhance my knowledge and skills in gender-related issues. Personally I could use the acquired knowledge in changing gender-based stereotypes and perceptions and could contribute to combating gender-based discrimination and violence.

I was extremely happy when I had been awarded a seat at the Gender Equality Event in Malmö. During the intensive programme of the Gender Equality Event I learnt about gender politics in Sweden, the progress Sweden has made so far in achieving gender equality, gender mainstreaming practices and tools, how gender perspective is mainstreamed and gender-related issues are incorporated into policies and activities in Sweden both at national and local levels.

The programme of the event was rather interesting, comprehensive and well-organized. We took part in an interesting and interactive workshop held by Klara Regnö from the Swedish Secretariat for Gender Research, we had a study visit to the Media Evolution City, where we learnt about gender mainstreaming and promotion of gender equality at a workplace and a study visit to Region Skåne (the County’s local government), where we had informative presentations about the gender politics in Sweden, gender mainstreaming policies at the local level and mentorship programme for immigrant women.

Gender mainstreaming became the major strategy to obtain gender equality in Sweden already in early 1990’s and Sweden has a profile ministry on gender equality. Sweden is the first country in the world that pursues a feminist foreign policy focusing on women’s empowerment. Though, the concept of gender equality implies that the interests, needs and priorities of both, women and men are taken into consideration, unfortunately, women in many countries are still underrepresented in many areas, still face discrimination and exclusion and are often victims of gender-based violence and gender-based stereotypes. Considerable work needs to be done to change gender-based stereotypes and perceptions, and combat gender-based discrimination and violence at all levels for empowering women. In this regard, the efforts of the Swedish Government made through its feminist foreign policy are highly expedient and commendable.

The Swedish national gender equality goal states: “Women and men are to have the same power to shape society and their own lives.” As it is clear from this goal, gender equality neither wants everyone to be the same, nor does it aim to diminish differences between women and men. Under the abovementioned goal, the following four objectives are to be implemented: 1. Equal distribution of power and influence; 2. Economic equality; 3. Equal distribution of unpaid housework and provision of care and 4. An end to men’s violence against women.

Many gender equality strategies and programmes around the world focus on the 1st, 2nd and the 4th objectives, while the 3rd objective, which is also very important is often ignored. Unequal distribution of unpaid housework and provision of care places an additional burden on the working women in many countries of the world and causes injustice. Within this objective it was interesting to learn about the project “Swedish Dads” and equal parenting. In this area, in particular, Sweden has accomplished much.

Within the programme, we were provided with useful information about the agencies dealing with gender equality research and gender mainstreaming in Sweden and Nordic countries and relevant links to them, which I will definitely use in my GFP activities. Moreover, within the event I expanded my alumni contacts and made new friends. Such programmes are beneficial not only for learning but also networking purposes with like-minded people.

After attending this interesting and beneficial programme, I am convinced that in the contemporary world Sweden serves as a role model in gender mainstreaming and promotion and implementation of gender equality policies. Sweden has achieved outstanding results and exceled in promotion of gender equality and contributes a lot to making gender equality a reality throughout the world. Sweden has much to offer in achieving gender equality and countries that have a goal to achieve it shall learn from the Swedish best practices and experience in this domain.

After participation in this programme I feel myself more equipped with the relevant knowledge and skills that I will apply in my Gender Focal Point activities.