Ladies and gentlemen – congratulations with the International Women’s Day! I am so happy to be here at the CSW on this day, celebrating with fellow feminists from all over the world. I hope all of you find lots of inspiration for your work to promote gender equality and women’s rights.
Being a member of the Nordic Council of Ministers for Gender Equality and LGBTI, I am pleased to welcome you to this event on technology facilitated violence – and the abusive internet, hosted jointly by the Latvian Government and the Nordic Council of Ministers.
Since 2017, the Nordic Council of Ministers for Gender Equality has a joint framework agreement with the governments of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania on Gender Equality, and we are excited to be holding this panel with experts both from the Nordic and Baltic regions.
In the Nordics we have come a long way towards gender equality, women’s and girls’ equal rights and LGBTI equality, in working life and in family life. Despite this positive development, many in our region experience gender-based harassment, hate speech and violence.
Gendered online hate influences who participates in politics and in the public space. Online hate is therefore a threat to democracy. We must take the abuse that is happening online seriously, because it has serious consequences – just like physical violence. Online violence is part of the discrimination, harassment and violence women are subjected to offline. The root causes are the same, the consequences are the same and women who have experienced online violence very often also have experienced offline violence. With social media, the hatred comes closer as you may experience it in your normally safe space such as your home.
Online gender-based violence, or technology-facilitated violence, is a problem that the Nordic Ministers have worked with for years and will continue to address under the recently adopted Roadmap to push back the opposition to gender equality.
The Nordic Roadmap aims to advance gender equality, women's and girls' rights, and equal rights for LGBTI persons at the international level with a unified Nordic voice that values diversity, inclusion and belonging, and stands up against discrimination.
Harassment and online hate speech require efforts not only by the Ministers for Gender Equality and LGBTI, but from other sectors and policy areas.
The Nordic ministers for culture have established a Nordic think-tank that looks into the tech-giants’ influence on democracy in the Nordic Region.
The task of the think-tank is to advance the debate about the tech giants’ influence on democracy in the Nordic Region, so that the Nordic Region can better deal with challenges in the future.
Through this pan-Nordic effort, the Nordic ministers for culture hope to be able to pool knowledge and experience from all the different countries.
Another example I would like to highlight is the Nordic-Baltic project New ways to tackle gender-based violence. This project has been successful in forming an international platform to raise awareness, prevent gender-based violence and to promote the Istanbul Convention.
I hope the presentations today will bring us further in the discussion of solutions and prevention, and to eliminate all forms of gender-based violence.