Widening the views


This spring, the Equality Journey has been widening it’s horizons even more. This Spring, I (Christina) was invited first to Colombia to share my knowledge on statistics and equality analyzes. I brought, of course, the Equality Journey. Later, in a trainee program of East African ‘districts’ (municipalities in Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda and Zambia). Spreading our method outside of Europe and to institutions working under conditions of post conflict and low economic development, felt like the ultimate challenge and a real test of it’s generalizability. How could I be sure that what works in a Swedish (or Finnish or Spanish) organization, would also work in a Tanzanian countryside district, or in Colombia municipal development authority?

So I went, nervous of course, and very humble, stating they would need to process the methods and maybe adapt them to their own conditions. But with no reason. Of course, it was different workshopping with people form a different context, that I don’t know much about. I had to use the participants more, to catch their perspective, and built on and discuss what they said making comparisons and adapt my examples from Sweden and Europe to what they said. But when it comes to the tool, and the process it guides, it seemed to work well. I didn’t face more challenges than when moving within different contexts within Sweden.  

Never the less, some differences was obvious, especially when it comes to advantages we have in Sweden. The first was the access to gender disaggregated data. Especially in East Africa, the lack of reliable and comparable data makes it hard to work systematically with gender on an administrative level, making administrators rely on reports from the “frontliners”, the ones working directly with the citizens. This, though, might also has a pro-side, making it impossible to induce change without anchoring it among those meant to implement it. 

The other advantage we have in Sweden are the Government’s Equality Goals. Having a clear definition of gender equality and how inequalities are stated in practice, it helps us avoid the inflamed discussion on what equality is and weather this or that could be called unequal or not. In public sector we don’t even have to touch the issue: this is what we are supposed to work for, end of discussion. Also in private sector, few question the goals, maybe because of a long term strategic work in many levels in society, leading to a general consensus not only in public sector but in general. 

Both those changes are structural preconditions that cannot easily be changed on short term. But it raises important questions to pose before starting an equality journey, regardless of where and when: Do we have facts available? If not, what is our strategy to get them. And how can we concretize gender equality: what is the equality we want to achieve and how does it look. 

As usual, by travelling you learn as much about yourself as about the places you visit. Therefore, a great thank you to my clients SKL International and ILCD for giving me the opportunity to visit other countries and making a deep dive into my own. 

Christina Ahlzén, Medida