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Barbershop Conference “Mobilizing Men and Boys for Gender Equality in the Baltic Sea Region“, 23 May 2017 in Reykjavik, Iceland

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The Icelandic Presidency of the Council of Baltic Sea States (CBSS) and the Nordic Council of Ministers (NCM) hosted the Barbershop Conference “Mobilizing Men and Boys for Gender Equality in the Baltic Sea Region“ on 23 May 2017 at the Nordic House in Reykjavik, Iceland.

Focusing on how gender inequality and human trafficking is linked and intertwined, the conference was opened by H.E. Guðlaugur Þór Þórðarson, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Iceland and started off with a panel discussion which shed light on good practices and examples seen in the Baltic Sea Region, presented by H.E. Mr. Per Anders Sunesson, Ambassador against Human Trafficking, Sweden; Ms. Sigríður Björk Guðjónsdóttir; Reykjavík Chief of Police, Iceland; Mr. Hjálmar Gunnar Sigmarsson; Counsellor, Stígamót – Education and Counseling Center for Survivors of Sexual Abuse and Violence, Iceland and Mr. Unnsteinn Manuel Stefánsson; Champion of the National Committe of UN Women Iceland and musician; and Ms. Helga Lind Mar, Member of the Executive Committee of European Student Union and organiser of “SlutWalk”.

Go here to re-watch the live stream of the first panel discussion.

Co-organiser María Mjöll Jónsdóttir, UN director at Iceland’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, explained in an interview the conference’s topic and interesting thematic combination as follows: “We know that trafficking in persons is a widespread problem in the region, although we don’t know the exact extent of it. The main victims are women who are exploited for sex, but there are also men who become victims of forced labour. To stop the trafficking, we need to focus on norms and attitudes, among other things. The participants we want to reach include those who work in the school systems and young professionals who can benefit from a gender perspective on issues in their work.”

The second panel focused consequently on causes and effects of human trafficking for sexual exploitation, moderated by Mr. Anthony Jay, CBSS Head of Media and Communications. Mr. Radu Cucos,  OSCE Special Representative and Co-ordinator for Combating Trafficking in Human Beings; Ms. Anu Leps National Coordinator, Ministry of Justice, Estonia; Mr. Snorri Birgisson Chief Inspector, Reykjavík Police and Mr. Jan Austad Senior Adviser, Ministry of Justice and Police, Norway discussed amongst others, how a gender gender perspective can be taken into account when addressing human trafficking for sexual exploitation. Since the most reported form of human trafficking still is trafficking for sexual exploitation (96% of victims are women and girls), this correlation seems evident. But there is also an increasing percentage of women involved in trafficking either as recruiters or as traffickers making in difficult at times to draw a line between a victim and a perpetrator.

Moreover, this panel discussion highlighted the main gender specific causes of trafficking for sexual exploitation and tried to answer the question of how men can be empowered to reflect critically on exploitative behaviour and to communicate about their bodies and their sexuality in order to prevent trafficking for sexual exploitation.

See the CBSS Flickr to see more photos of the conference.

More information on the Barbershop concept can be found here.