How did it all start?


The Equality Journey started in Malmö, 2012. The municipality demanded equality analyses to be done annually in every separate department, and granted resources for this work to get a good start. In Södra Innerstaden, a sub municipal department responsible for schools, pre-scools/child care, social services, social development and elderly care, they started thinking: Equality analyses, HOW IS THAT DONE? And doing some research they found a methodological gap between the mapping and the measures taken. “Take power relations into consideration” and other very vague tips were given, but they all needed quite a high level of gender knowledge to be applied.

Due to their bottom up approach, believing the analyses should be owned by the employees themselves, not by some administrative expert, they hired me – Christina Ahlzén – as an external consultant to develop the how-aspect of an equality analyses. In the company of Charlotte Ovesson, I developed the three step tool “Vägen till jämställdhet” – “The journey to equality” in close cooperation with the coworkers of Malmö.

The setup was quite easy. We had a reference group with strategic key staff from each department. Here every step was deeply discussed to try out the consultant’s thoughts. This was complemented by trial units, representors of the different branches of the department, doing a trial analyses guided by the consultants.

The first and the last step – mapping and taking measures, was quite obvious from start. We needed to find a topic for analyses, map the current situation, and we wanted a tool that led to practical change, since this was outspoken demands from central Malmö. But then back to the key question – what is this magical analyses that should be done in between?

Research showed all in the same direction: the situation is a problem if it creates or maintains inequality. The logical following question was what, then, is inequality? Luckily in Sweden, we have the governmental equality goals – stating what equality is. Inequality would thus be something affecting those negatively. And in order to estimate the consequences, we need to know the causes. There was the answer: an equality analyses is an analyses of causes and consequences related to the overall goals with the equality work.

In spite of this seemingly easy answer, the trial seminar turned into chaos. The questions asked were too vague and the participants had great difficulties relating their own work to issues on the societal level such as violence against women and wage gap. But one participant found the solution: “We should have tick-boxes. Not having to write as much, just ticking a box of yes or no!”. We did our homework and the invention of Vägen till jämställdhet – later to be developed into the Equality Journey – was born.

After a process of six months, “The Road to Equality” was a working tool with a great layout. The city of Malmö is using it still to a great extent, and the users are very happy.

Nevertheless, guiding the Malmö staff through the tool, I found areas to improve. One was the starting point, a better guide to finding the right area to map. Another was the need of looking further then sex – where there were possibilities in the tool, but no insistence. So I kept thinking, and one day I decided to take the first step. The result of this process is in your hands: the Equality Journey. 

Christina Ahlzén, Medida