International conference in Stockholm on men and gender equality

On 15–16 May, Sweden and Minister for Children, the Elderly and Gender Equality Lena Hallengren hosted the 4th International Conference on Men and Equal Opportunities (ICMEO) in Stockholm. Among the 300 participants were several European gender equality ministers, researchers and representatives of government agencies and civil society. The role and responsibility of men and boys in gender equality efforts was in focus, as well as how we change social norms that have negative effects.

  • Lena Hallengren, Minister for Gender Equality, and Shanga Aziz, founder and president of Locker Room Talk.

    Lena Hallengren, Minister for Gender Equality, and Shanga Aziz, founder and president of Locker Room Talk.

    Photo: Henrik Montgomery/Regeringskansliet

  • Lena Hallengren, Minister for Gender Equality, and Ivana Klympush-Tsintsadze, Vice Prime Minister in Ukraine.

    Lena Hallengren, Minister for Gender Equality, and Ivana Klympush-Tsintsadze, Vice Prime Minister in Ukraine.

    Photo: Henrik Montgomery/Government Offices of Sweden

  • Minister Panel at ICMEO on Men and Eqaul Opportunities.

    Panel discussing what results are in sight and what are the responsibilities of European leaders to get there? Lazar Lazarov, Deputy Minister of Labour and Social Policy in Bulgaria, Martina Vuk, State Secretary Ministry of Social Affairs and Equal Opportunities in Slovenia, David Stanton, Minister of State in the Department of Justice and Equality in Irland, Christine Morgenstern, Head of Department for Gender Equality in Germany, Ivana Klympush-Tsintsadze, Vice Prime Minister in Ukraine and Lena Hallengren, Swedish Minister for Gender Equality.

    Photo: Henrik Montgomery/Government Offices of Sweden

  • Jeff Hearn, Senior Professor  in gender studies at Örebro University, Sweden.

    Jeff Hearn, Senior Professor in gender studies at Örebro University, Sweden.

    Photo: Henrik Montogomery/Government Offices of Sweden

  • Shereen El Feki, Senior Fellow, Promondo.

    Key speaker Shereen El Feki, Senior Fellow, Promondo, talked about privilege and pressure - men and gender equality in countries of origin.

    Photo: Henrik Montgomery/Government Offices of Sweden

The conference in Stockholm was arranged in cooperation with the Swedish Gender Equality Agency and has previously been held in Germany (2012), Austria (2014) and Luxembourg (2016).

"In light of the 'Me Too' movement, it is important to continue discussing and raising examples of how boys and men can be active in changing attitudes and fighting sexism. To achieve real change and a gender-equal society, men need to participate, be engaged and show solidarity," said Minister for Children, the Elderly and Gender Equality Lena Hallengren, who opened the conference at Norra Latin in Stockholm.

Shanga Aziz, founder of Locker Room Talk, was one of the opening speakers and spoke about the work to fight sexism and macho culture in the changing room.

"It is about starting conversations with more men on these topics. We men must reflect on our own behaviour, ask questions, but also confront others. If your friends are talking about women in a degrading way, you have to question this behaviour in order to make a change," said Mr Aziz.

Virginja Langbakk, Director of the European Institute for Gender Equality (EIGE), participated in a panel on norm criticism and how boys and young men can be active in the process of change.

"We have to establish gender equality standards for the European Union in order to be better able to compare the Member States. Now things are going backwards in relation to unpaid work. Two out of three men in the EU do not even devote one hour to the children or housework, which means the whole job is done by women," said Ms Langbakk.

Challenging social norms

The theme of this year's conference was 'Masculinity and norm critical approaches: Gender equality work with boys and young men'. Perspectives on men and gender equality were examined in areas such as education, health and prevention of violence. The first day had a broader international perspective and parts of the second day had a Nordic profile, since Sweden holds the Presidency of the Nordic Council of Ministers in 2018. The Swedish Association of Local Authorities and Regions (SALAR), the Public Health Agency of Sweden and the Män organisation were each responsible for a workshop.

On 16 May, in parallel with the ICMEO, Nordic gender equality ministers held a meeting under the auspices of the Swedish Presidency of the Nordic Council of Ministers, during which men and gender equality was also on the agenda. In connection with the meeting, a Nordic-Baltic ministerial meeting on current gender equality issues in the countries was also held.

Parallel workshops

1. Norm critical work in schools
2. Promoting equality through education
3. Masculinity and caregiving
4. Young men and sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR)
5. Icelandic concept for dealing with masculinity norms and trafficking of human beings for sexual purposes
6. Nordic work on violence prevention among young men including honour-related violence