EU Conference: Equality needs men and men need equality
Equality policy has to pay attention to both genders. The relationship between men and equality must also be dealt with as a totality of its own, so that men can participate in furthering equality and the situation of both men and women. Solutions also need to be found to men’s problems. The second day of the Finnish EU Presidency expert conference ‘Men and Equality Towards Progressive Policies’, held in Helsinki, discussed the relationship between men and equality.
The final speeches to the conference were given by Director Eva Welskop-Deffaa, representing the forthcoming German Presidency, Commissioner Vladimir Spidla and the Minister of Social Affairs and Health Tuula Haatainen. Finland will draw up a proposal for further EU level activity on equality.
Making men visible in equality policy
The main attention of equality policy usually concerns the situation of women. This is due to the main objective of equality policy, to improve the position of women. Men’s pro-equality behaviour and attitudes are crucial to promoting equality and improving the situation of women. Paying attention to men also helps identify the links between the situation of men and women and the ways in which equality policy benefits both genders. As men’s needs and problems nowadays receive better attention so solutions that suite everyone can be found to such things as reconciling work and family life. It can be said that equality needs men and men need equality.
The mainstreaming of gender perspectives is key to dealing with many problems facing men, for instance in health matters. The different needs of women and men need to receive better attention when planning services. For example, last year a study was carried out in Finland on alcohol policy, according to which rehabilitation treatment practices operate mainly for men, whereas preventive work concentrates more on women.
Men’s relationship to equality is a new subject. Finland hopes that work on the issue will continue in the EU. It should be integrated as part of equality policy, so that the perspective of men and equality policy are not counterposed.
Further information: Senior Officer Antti Närhinen tel: +358 50 514 8002 or +358 9 160 73175 and Project Manager Jouni Varanka tel: +358 9 160 73842. See also www.stm.fi > MSAH and the EU Presidency.