Highlights from our 2024 International Women’s Day Nordic Breakfast Discussion

Mar 13, 2024 | 2024, Events, News


On the 8th of March 2024, we had the pleasure of hosting the 7th International Women’s Day Nordic Breakfast Discussion. This year’s topic Changing the Game: Gender Equality in Football garnered a great deal of attention, resulting in a full house with a total of 71 participants gathered at the Embassy of Finland in Brussels as well as several live-stream followers.

The panellists were Milla Majasaari, goalkeeper for the Finnish National Team and RSC Anderlecht, Eyðvør Klakstein, Faroese football midfielder for KÍ Klaksvík Sports Club, Vanda Sigurgeirsdóttir, Assistant Professor of Leisure and Social Science at the University of Iceland and former President of the Football Association of Iceland, Shanga Aziz, co-founder of the Swedish non-profit organisation Locker Room Talk and Lykke Friis, Director of Denmark’s Think Tank Europa and former Danish minister of climate, energy, and gender equality.

The discussion was moderated by the Brussels-based culture journalist Ana Fota and the audience was welcomed by the Finnish Ambassador to Belgium and Luxembourg Jouko Leinonen.

The Director of the European Institute for Gender Equality Carlien Scheele kicked off the morning, sharing the state of play. Having just attended an Inter-parliamentary Committee Meeting on the challenges women face in sport the previous day at the European Parliament, the importance of having this discussion on this day became all the more evident:

“The data show us steady progress towards gender balance in sport over the years. Yet, women remain underrepresented in the decision-making bodies of sporting institutions.”

This is a pattern both our panellists Lykke Friis and Vanda Sigurgeirsdóttir have strived to change. Sigurgeirsdóttir is the first woman in Iceland and in Europe to be president of a football association, paving the way for many to follow.


How to Change the Game?

The discussion ranged from practical aspects on the football field, such as discrepancies in how match times are allocated – men’s teams are often prioritised when it comes to time slots – to the irrefutable pay gaps in women’s and men’s football.

Faroese midfielder, Eyðvør Klakstein shared how women’s teams are often expected to raise their own funds, from organising bake sales to the more traditional “cow pat lotto”. Furthermore, they are also expected to support the men’s teams but this is never reciprocated.

Speaking on the topic of resistance to striving for more equal conditions in football, Milla Majasaari raised the importance of being aware of learned behaviours and unconscious biases:

“We should think about how we talk and how we educate people since we have all been raised in this system that casts women as secondary.”

As for the role of men and boys in actively changing the cultural landscape in sports, Shanga Aziz highlights the need for continuity:

“We need to have coaches who follow up and follow through. While studies show that behaviours change after a year, there is hope as we see change happening already during our eight-week programme.”

The panel discussion was organised in cooperation with the Embassy of Finland in Brussels, the Embassy of Sweden, the Norwegian Embassy, the Embassy of Denmark, the Embassy of Iceland, and The Mission of the Faroes to the European Union.

Photo by Unna Löppönen / Permanent Representation of Finland to the EU.


Invitation: RSC Anderlecht X Club YLA

You are cordially invited to a special football match between RSCA Women and Club YLA at the Lotto Park in Brussels, Belgium on Saturday, 23 March 2024 at 13:30 CET. This match follows our International Women’s Day Breakfast Discussion and presents a unique opportunity for you to actively contribute to the ongoing conversation surrounding gender equality in sports.

The tickets are free of charge. To reserve yours, please fill out this form.

Please RSVP to confirm your attendance. Registration closes at 12:00 CET (noon) on Friday, 22 March 2024. Your tickets will be sent to you via email on Thursday, 21 March. Accessibility information can be found on the form above.

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