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Stockholm events get 'gender' funding rules

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Stockholm events get 'gender' funding rules
Stockholm's new Waterfront venue. Photo: Image Bank Sweden
16:22 CET+01:00
From festivals to sports games, organisers seeking public funding to help market their events in Sweden's capital now have to submit their company's gender policies, as part of new rules designed to make Stockholm the best city in the world for women to do business.
While Sweden already has a global reputation for equality, Stockholm Business Region, the municipal body responsible for marketing the capital as a business and tourist destination, wants an even greater focus on gender issues.
 
This week, its board passed a motion requiring all applications for funding from the body to include an outline of how organisers plan to make their events 'gender equal', or alternatively what their company or association is doing to promote equality elsewhere in its activities.
 
"For a while we have been discussing Stockholm's USP (Unique Selling Point), and we came to the conclusion that along with a lot of other great things the city has to offer, gender equality is quite developed here and we want to push this even further," Stockhom Business Region's CEO Olle Zetterberg told The Local on Wednesday.
 
Quick to insist that the move was neither a "political directive" nor a result of Sweden's Feminist party scoring three seats on Stockholm City Council, he added:
 
"The board agreed that since Stockholm Business Region is making a contribution to promoting big sporting and cultural events in the city, the organisers of those events should be telling us more about how they work with gender equality. We're not saying that all events need to be 'gender equal', but organisers do need to show they have a general policy in this area. So for example we're not going to ban a male ice hockey game, because we know that Sweden's Ice Hockey Federation is doing a lot of other things to encourage women to take up the sport."
 
In recent months, Stockholm Business Region has helped boost marketing for events from Stockholm's Gay Pride Festival to the European Ice Skating Championships alongside a range of activities at the city's new Waterfront venue.
 
"We'll need to see how the new rules work in practice, but in a general sense I think the new policy is a very positive step," Sam Holmberg, CEO for Stockholm Waterfront told The Local on Wednesday.
 
"In the Nordics, the gender equality debate isn't as great as in other regions, but we can still do even better to close the gap. As an employee of a company or as a customer you should be entitled to certain requirements such as checking the business is ethical or environmentally friendly - has good corporate social responsibility if you like - and a positive approach to gender should fit alongside this," he added.
 
While in many other European cities the new regulations might raise concerns about "political correctness" or added "red tape", The Local struggled to find critics of the idea on Wednesday after calling most of the main event venues in the Swedish capital.
 
One staff member at perhaps the city's most iconic sport and music venue, who unsurprisingly did not wish to be named, said:  "You're kidding me, it sounds like more than a little extra work".
 
But most responses reflected the sentiment of Pernilla Abrahamsson, a spokesperson for Nalen, a major concert, restaurant and club venue in Stockholm:
 
"We have never applied for grants for marketing from Stockholm Business Region, but generally we think that if you're asking event organisers to report on their financial accounts and environmental policy, it is equally important to ask for an account of the approach to gender equality within the organization."
 
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