Gertrud Åström, originally from Bodträsk in Kalix, is one of Sweden's leading gender equality experts. Her ideas, strategic development and investigations have laid the foundation for Swedish gender equality work and also received international attention, through the UN and the Beijing Women's Conference.
Earlier this year she was appointed as honorary doctor at Luleå University of Technology. This week, she visited the university for the Academic ceremony and to give a lecture, called "A human agreement".
She took the audience on a gender equality-journey, from a chapel in her childhood village to townships in South Africa, the Israeli Parliament Knesset, the UN and EU.
– If there are any young students here in the audience, I can inform them that gender equality is not a bad idea for a world tour.
Nordic countries in the forefront
Gertrud Åström clarified how important it is that gender equality not stays as a theory.
– If you do not lift the big question – "why do we do this" – you risk to bury yourself in policies and plans.
She told that she during the years has gotten many suggestions for explaining why the Nordic countries in a global comparison are at the forefront of gender equality. Among the suggestions there have been everything from cold climate and sparse populations, to education level, peace and prosperity. But Gertrud Åström reminded the audience that Finland was war-torn in the first half of the 20th century and as late as the 1960s, only five percent of men and two percent of women in Sweden had achieved an upper secondary school diploma. Gertrud Åström stressed the importance of knowing your history to be able to change the future.
– We in the Nordic region are rich because we decided us to strive for gender equality. Gender equality is mission for everyone.