Category: LIVE

Inequality incompatible with sustainable development

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



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The ailing woman lives longer

Statistically, we women live longer than men. Yet if we look at the number of people on sick leave, women are sick more often. So how come the ailing woman lives longer?
Region Skåne has studied the health of women and men in the county, and presented the results at a seminar during the Nordiskt Forum. The provocative question “Why does the ailing woman live longer?” was not answered in the seminar, but the issue was raised. In the study, men reported better health… yet have a shorter life expectancy.
“We used to wear out our bodies, but now we wear out our brains.”
When people in Skåne were asked to rate their own physical health, the men’s and women’s results were quite similar, but when they were asked to rate their mental health, the results were very different; many more women reported pyschiatric ill-health than men. We see an increase in psychiatric ill-health in young men aged 18-34, in women aged 35-44 and, in particular, women aged 45-54..
Gender differences in health can be seen already in children of school age. When boys and girls of school age in Skåne were asked to rate their health, boys of all ages, from age 6 upwards, reported better health than girls. When they were asked if they ever experienced any psychiatric or somatic problems, by the time they reached upper secondary school age, more than twice as many girls as boys answered ‘yes’. Girls also feel more stress caused by school work.
What affects health?
Life conditions, lifestyle factors and biological factors affect health. The first two include gender roles, differences in life conditions, a gender-segregated labour market, and health-related lifestyle habits such as smoking and alcohol consumption. Biological factors can include the influence of the sex hormones (testosterone och oestrogen) and genetic differences.
The Region Skåne study also shows that it is more common for women to experience stress in their work environment than men. Women commute mainly by bicycle and bus, while men mainly commute by car. And up until retirement age, it is mainly women who experience economic stress.
Women also feel less safe when walking in their residential area compared with men; however, we do see an improvement in this for women of all ages. It should be pointed out here that, here, we are talking about perceived safety because, in statistical terms, it is more dangerous for women to be in their homes than outdoors.
These are factors that affect health, and that we can influence – both as individuals and as a society. Greater equality in society generates better health for women. How long would we then live?
Did you know?
Statistically, men have abnormally high mortality caused by alcohol and road accidents, particularly when they are over 40.
Men take more risks than women when it comes to consumption of cigarettes, snus and alcohol.
Smoking is decreasing rapidly, both in women and men.
Women use more medicines than men – in all categories.
Women are more likely to contract cancer than men.
Men feel they have less emotional support than women.

Angry white men

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.