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Policy Relevant Highlights


           Empowerment for all genders is essential to Arctic societies thrivability and sustainable development. 

The ability of all genders to thrive both contributes to community thrivability and depends on it. Moving gender empowerment and fate control from the periphery to the center of public policy discourse and decision making is vital to achieving Sustainable Development Goals in the Arctic. 

  • Maintain focus on gender empowerment and relevant research to improve the knowledge base across the Arctic. Insights from qualitative studies have indicated that there may be more subtle aspects of power and influence than currently considered in policy development. Gendered economic empowerment remains marginalized and isolated as a research focus. 

  • Improve gender-specific data collection and availability. Gender-disaggregated and comparable statistics should be compiled, reflecting employment, occupations, income, decision-making power and effects on local communities. These statistics should be comprehensive and track development over time. Such a database will also serve to emphasize the contributions Arctic residents, women and men, are making to the economy. 

  • Establish a system of monitoring based on gender empowerment indicators at the national, regional, and community level. Allocate sufficient funding for assessment of gender empowerment in politics and public administration, emphasizing data analysis and good practices. Support monitoring and research at all levels using a Gender Empowerment Index that encompasses Gender Political Empowerment, Economic Empowerment and Gender Media Indices. 

  • SDWG: Encourage regular reporting on data, policy updates, and good practices in achieving all genders' political, economic and civic empowerment. 

  • SDWG/SECEG: Develop a framework for a monitoring system by developing and implementing gender empowerment indicators and a Gender Empowerment Index across Arctic jurisdictions. 

  • SDWG: Create an Arctic Gender Empowerment Initiatives Hub to exchange knowledge and expertise to facilitate all genders’ empowerment in political, economic, and civic spheres by sharing new ideas, perspectives, good practices, and strengthening connections across Arctic communities to thrive through the challenges they face.

           The Arctic is diverse. There is no one-size-fits-all policy solution to address gender empowerment gaps. 

Culturally, politically, and economically diverse Arctic regions require different approaches to improve gender empowerment and overcome gender inequality and inequity. The gendered economic land- scape is becoming more complicated as different social, economic, ethnic, and gender groups become more distinct and recognized. Underrepresented genders’ access to and participation in political, economic, and civic spheres still needs to be improved. 

  • The analysis of economic empowerment must be more nuanced and account for various gender and other identities prevalent in diverse Arctic societies. 

  • Indigenous Peoples’ traditions and perspectives on gender and gender equality should be acknowledged and incorporated into legal, theoretical, and practical frameworks of gender knowledge for a comprehensive understanding of gender empowerment in the Arctic. 

           Mainstreaming gender equality and empowerment at national, regional, and local levels, plays an important role in attaining gender empowerment in political, economic, and civic spheres. Given the diversity in political, legal, and sociocultural environments across the Arctic, there are no universal policies and mechanisms to fully guarantee equal access to all levels of power and across different sectors to all genders. 

  • Consider, where appropriate, policy measures such as quota systems, legislation, affirmative action, and support for training and education to alleviate existing gaps (including in STEM disciplines, entrepreneurship, and business management skills). 

  • Include specific outcomes with timeframes in gender-oriented policies, concrete gender action programs and implementation plans. 

  • Create or strengthen existing gender equality institutions and practices. This would include gender-oriented task forces in national (central) and regional ministries, administrative bodies, and parliamentary committees on gender equality aimed at assessing barriers for genders’ political empowerment, monitoring gender (in)equality trends, gender gaps, compliance with national laws, and preparing recommendations. In addition, enhancing gender diversity in party nominations and recruitment could be a promising practice. 

  • The public administrative sector to place a special focus on reviewing internal regulations pertaining to recruitment and promotion policies, hiring procedures, and gender-sensitive language in vacancy description to encourage all genders to apply. Further, develop an effective, comprehensive system of awards and penalties for achieving or disregarding gender equality principles.

          Persistent gender gaps in Arctic government institutions, education, politics, economy, media, and civic society. 

Women are taking the lead in educational attainment, and they are becoming the leading force of human capital accumulation, especially when it comes to tertiary education, with the exception of the STEM disciplines. While the role of women in human capital in the Arctic is increasing, the out-migration of educated women or women seeking greater education opportunities remains a concern. Concomitantly, the Arctic faces an emerging reverse education gap when men as a group, tend to have lower educational attainment than women. 


Gender gaps in politics, although they vary significantly across Arctic countries and across the regions/ subnational entities, are observed in respect to both numeric representation and access to top leadership positions at all levels at Arctic government institutions. In addition, higher political stakes correspond to greater gender gaps in most circumpolar jurisdictions, resulting in more profound inequalities at the regional level than at city and local community levels. In some Arctic communities, there is an emerging phenomenon of reversed gender disparity related to male underrepresentation that also needs to be addressed. 

In most Arctic regions, even though Arctic women as a group have higher levels of education than men, women on average earn approximately 20% less than men. There are significant employment and occupational inequalities with women heavily represented in the public sector, but less commonly employed in the resource sector jobs, which normally provide better compensation. Indigenous women play a significant role in the public sector, while maintaining subsistence practices and taking advantage of new economic opportunities, such as the cultural economy. 

Civil society actors, which contribute to successful implementation of affirmative action policies by increasingly shaping perceptions of gender diversity in leadership, experience horizontal gender-based occupational segregation. Females dominate in the non-profit sector and males dominate in the media sector. 

  • Ensure an inclusive approach to gender equality. The focus on women, prevalent in existing literature and practice, should not diminish opportunities for other genders, including men, who, as a group, now tend to have lower educational attainment than women and may need support to close the education gap. Indigenous traditions can be considered in further research as good practices for achieving gender parity. 

  • Strengthen civic–government cooperation. Allocation of funds for civic–government joint programs and project implementation is an integral part of affirmative action policies. To promote ideas of gender equality, alter mindsets, and improve perceptions of gender equality, as well as all genders' empowerment, a particular focus can be placed on educational, leadership, and advertising gender-oriented programs. Strengthening and visualizing ideas on gender diversity in leadership positions in politics, public administration, economics, and civil society may gradually contribute to creating new social, political, and cultural norms and expectations. 

  • The Council/SDWG: Promote collaboration with the Arctic Economic Council and to establish a working group on Gender Economic Equality and Empowerment. 

          Continual patterns of gender-related clustering in government institutions and business. 

Men are overrepresented in governance of the most vital economic sectors (e.g., extractive industries, infrastructure, transportation, fisheries, military, homeland security, law enforcement, etc.). Less prestigious segments of public governance, traditionally perceived as female domains, are often predominantly (or entirely) occupied by women. Moreover, women occupy a limited number of business leadership positions and often suffer from continuing discourses of the primacy of men’s work, occupational bias or restrictions, and unfair labor practices. 

  • Develop a networking and action platform for women policymakers in the Arctic. This initiative (e.g., a caucus, network, working group, etc.) to share experiences, promote gender equality initiatives, and provide inspiration and training for the new generations of female policymakers, can be expanded to other underrepresented genders in the future.

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