For the fifth year running the Nordic Labour Journal publishes the gender equality barometer. The division of power in the Nordic region is better than ever, but not across the board. This year we focus on religious societies, generally ruled by men. Nordic churches are different, with women as top bishops in Iceland, Norway and Sweden. But does power equal authority?
Agnes M. Sigurðardóttir is the new Bishop of Iceland. She compares her job to being prime minister and president at the same time; both positions have been held by women in Iceland before. Iceland is also top of the world when it comes to female employment. They were first to introduce shared parental leave, they have introduced boardroom quotas and they are the first to introduce a ‘fair pay certificate’ securing equal pay for equal work in the public sector.
They have come this far, yet Bishop Agnes M. Sigurðardóttir in this month’s portrait feels attitudes are lagging behind. “Women’s words are not trusted to the same extent as men’s”. There is a fight for the power and authority to define the right faith.
When women conquer new arenas, gender issues become important in new settings. Gender and innovation is a new research area spearheaded by Sweden. It is about challenging what we take for granted. The Swedish research organisation Vinnova calls it a norm-critical innovation where gender and ethnicity are the elements which will provide more innovative solutions and improved competitiveness.
There is also a market waiting, not for a pink car, but for innovations which satisfy women’s needs and purchasing power.
These are exciting times. Things are happening. Even for the latecomer Denmark. Men have got a bit longer paternal leave, and the Minister for Equality Manu Sareen is very happy because the Danish alternative to legally binding boardroom quotas, the Danish model, shows more women are entering the boardrooms.
When we look at the graph made by Björn Lindahl illustrating the development in the Nordic countries, the arrow points up and up. Yet things are moving too slowly. Important areas are lagging behind. According to the Gender Equality Barometer, the Nordic region will only reach full gender equality in 2030 at the earliest.
What will it be? Not pink, but a yet to be defined new reality with a better distribution of power and authority.