Conference in Akureyri, Iceland

The conference on Gender Equality in the Arctic will broadly focus on the living condition of women and men throughout the Circumpolar North, addressing key issues such as access to and control over resources, representation in decision-making positions, political participation, regional development, human security, and material and cultural well-being. The purpose is to promote extensive, policy-relevant dialogue on gender equality issues in terms of current realities and future challenges and in the context of climatic and environmental changes and economic and social development.

There is an inherent gender imbalance in the on-going policy discussions and decision making about the Arctic, as women are underrepresented in Arctic governing bodies, administration, business and science. The geopolitical and global economic significance of the Arctic region is growing, inter alia a consequence of climate change, accelerated resource development and prospects for trans-arctic shipping. Although generalisations should be avoided, given the cultural and social diversity of the North, economic development throughout much of the region seems to be affecting men and women differently. It is a cause for concern that future development in the North may for the most part focus on traditional male sectors such as oil and gas, mining, shipping and tertiary industrial development. Disproportionate out-migration of adult females characterises many rural areas of the Arctic, primary as a result of diminishing employment and lack of education opportunities for women. The resulting sex-ratio imbalance negatively affects the resilience and development of Arctic communities, many of which are seeing very high death rate for males, especially from external causes.

This conference will bring together government representatives, policy makers, academics and a wide range of other stakeholders such as from the business community, resource managers and users, community leaders and NGO representatives. Together with a comprehensive follow-up report, the conference will lay the foundation for a cooperation network of the various stakeholders researching, teaching and discussing and promoting gender equality in the Arctic.

The main organizers of the conference are the Ministry for Foreign Affairs of Iceland, Icelandic Centre for Gender Equality, the Stefansson Arctic Institute and the Icelandic Arctic Cooperation Network, with the support of the Nordic Council of Ministers, Sweden, Finland, Norway, the Faroe Islands and the Arctic Council.

The conference has also received invaluable support and  expertize from members of its scoping committe, including: Dr. Gail Fondahl, University of Northern British Columbia, Assistant Professor Erika Hayfield, University of the Faroe Islands, Assistant Professor Auður H. Ingólfsdóttir, Bifrost University, Assistant Professor Anna Karlsdóttir, University of Iceland, Ph.D. Student Liza Mack, Aleut International Organization, Dr. Päivi Naskali, University of Lapland, Senior Adviser Lise Östby, Norwegian Directorate for Children, Youth and Families, Director Kristinn Schram, Centre for Arctic Policy Studies of the University of Iceland.

The conference is sponsored by the Ministry for Foreign Affairs of Iceland, the Icelandic Government’s Equality Action Fund, the Foreign Ministry of Sweden, the Nordic Cooperation Committee and the Nordic Council of Ministers for Gender Equality (MR-JÄM).

The conference will take place at Hof Cultural and Conference Center in the heart of Akureyri.

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