The session Peace and Security began with a play written by Svetlana Aleksijevitj, Kriget har inget kvinnligt ansikte (War has no Female Face).
The feminist economy concerns the relationship between feminism and economy at several levels. An important part involves questioning how the conventional economy values the reproductive sector, in other words, what is valued and what is not valued in economic processes. The three panel members who took part in the seminar Feminist Economy were each given five minutes to define the concept and to apply it in a wider context. The first to speak was Anna Giotas Sandquist from Botkyrka Municipality.
“The municipality has a very important role in promoting equality. At the local level, in a way we’re suppliers of what makes our lives possible. It concerns, for example, salaries and work conditions. It’s at municipal level that we must work to attain the Government’s equality goals.
Anna Giotas also pointed out that financial independence is important for everyone, and that the gender pay gap today is like a chasm. She gave as an example the average annual salary for a woman in Fittja and compared it with the average annual salary for a man in Tullinge. The salaries differed by several hundred thousand Swedish kronor.
Today, feminist economy is an academic field. What is problematised in the field often concerns what we value and what we choose not to value. An example is unpaid household work, something that is mainly carried out by women and that is not included in a country’s GNP.
What is the actual value of unpaid work, the panel members were asked by the Moderator, Alexandra Pascalidou. How can we persuade the powers-that-be that a feminine economy is vital and even profitable?
“I think we should turn the question around and, instead, ask what inequality costs in modern society,” says doctoral student Anna Klerby.
“I think it’s important that as many as possible get involved. Go to the Municipal Executive Board meetings and ask questions that raise the issue of the feminist economy. An important rule of thumb can be to ask who gets what, on what terms, and with what results,” concludes Anna Giotas Sandquist.
Text: Cecilia Lindvall
What are the biggest challenges facing feminism? Representatives from all five Nordic countries considered this question in the session The Future of Feminism in the Nordic Region. The responses showed that the challenges are not only many, but also that each of the Nordic countries face different challenges.
“I feel that growing individualisation in society is a major challenge we have to tackle when working with gender equality issues. It blinds us to the power structures between men and women,” says Milla Pyykkönen, Finland.
The panel agreed that angry white men are a major threat to feminism. The Icelandic representantive, Kristin Astgeirdottir, pointed out that it is important to identify the biggest threats before we can make progress in the work on gender equality.
“We can see that antifeminism is growing in society. What we need are male feminists who can counterbalance the angry white men. It’s not only women who benefit from greater equality in society – men also benefit. The feminism debate needs more engaged men.”
The seminar concluded with a discussion on the economic aspects of feminimsm. The Moderator, Vicki Therkildsen, asked the panel about the links between feminism and money.
“Women do a lot of unpaid work, often in their own leisure time. Money is vital so that the women’s movements all over the Nordic region can carry out their work. Women undoubtedly have fewer economic resources than men. Support the weak instead of giving most of the resources to the man,” concludes Kristin Astgeirdottir.