Umea is the regional centre of northern Sweden with a total population of 111 571 inhabitants. Students compose almost a third of this population, as Umea is an important town for education, technical and medical research in Sweden, with two universities. Achieving gender equality in all fields is a core priority of the municipality, which set up a Gender equality office; it also holds the “secretariat” of the Union of Baltic Cities commission on gender equality. Moreover, the exchange activities undertaken within the WEED network will be linked to those of the Gender Network of the Northern Region (Sweden) in which Umea is also involved. Compared to other European regions and cities, Umea has a good record in terms of women´s participation in the labour market and in the enterprise field. However, the municipality wishes to address the gendered pay gap issue, as well as the persistence of segregation patterns in education and training and thus in professional life. The need to increase immigrant women´s involvement in the labour market is also an important area of concern.
The main challenges and priorities identified for Umea include:
- Addressing the gender-segregated labour market and its consequences, part-time work, the pay-gap, status jobs, career opportunities.
- Working for change in the regions focus areas (geotechnology, forestry): getting more women into these areas both in research and at work. Gender consequence analyses would be a good strategy for the focus areas, since they are strongly male dominated sectors today.
- Support functions to projects that wish to work actively with gender mainstreaming as strategy.
- Business laws in Sapmi, gender roles that affect both women and men´s choices on the labour market. The Double shift (triple in Sapmi), i.e. paid and unpaid work - still mostly women’s situation.
- To change attitudes in financing and finding ways for women’s self-esteem greater within business area.
- All members stress how important it is with education, to create networks and education opportunities for women in entrepreneurship. Also to be able to offer mentorship programs for women in career opportunities or in other areas in society.