A new measuring tool gives the city of Lycksele, Sweden, a good view of how its resources for leisure activities are allocated to women and men, girls and boys.
For a number of years, the city of Lycksele’s leisure and recreation department has aimed at allocating its annual budget of SEK 25 million equally between girls and boys, women and men. The purpose is to facilitate quality leisure and recreation for all citizens regardless of gender. However, so far there has not been a good way to assess whether the goal has been achieved.
The city in cooperation with a company named ChartIKS have now developed a tool that they call JämGIS. Jäm is the first syllabus of the Swedish word for gender equality and GIS is an acronym for geographic information system.
GIS can be used to explore different types of geographic information, for example by putting people’s movement patterns or visitation statistics on a map.
The tool offers local politicians a simple way to find out whether the allocation of the department’s resources is indeed gender equal.
‘Developing the tool wasn’t easy, although the basic principle is simple,’ says Malin Hedlund, project leader at the City of Lycksele.
Last year, the providers of leisure and recreation activities started filling out so-called activity cards online. On the cards, the different clubs and organisations are asked to provide the gender breakdown of those who attended each reported activity. Similarly, the staff at Lycksele’s city-operated facilities, for example the ice arena and indoor swimming pool, have started counting their visitors separated by gender.
‘Many municipalities are using the same system, making it easy to get started with JämGIS. The prep work has already been done.’
The resulting information is forwarded to JämGIS. Since the tool is connected to the city’s accounting system, which handles the budget of the leisure and recreation department, the allocation of resources can also be inputted into the system.
‘Many municipalities are using the same system, making it easy to get started with JämGIS. The preparation work has already been done,’ says Hedlund.
Everything Almost in Place
The development of the tool and collection of material took a little over a year. The data keep coming in and fairly soon the department will have enough material for a thorough gender analysis.
JämGIS gives a clear overview of how the resources are allocated to different activities and to what extent they are used by girls, boys, women and men. The information is displayed in circle graphs on a map. The larger the circle graph, the more resources the club or facility has received.
The information will soon be presented to the city’s services committee, which will then discuss whether the allocation of resources to different activities should be changed in any way.
Malin Hedlund emphasises that showing the information is the easy part – fixing any problems that are found can be more difficult.
‘We haven’t made any concrete changes yet. What we can see is that the resources are distributed relatively evenly across different activities and facilities. But we also see that the usage of some facilities, such as the ice arena and horse riding centre, is highly gender biased.’
Active Role of Politicians is Crucial
The city gives special funding to clubs that work actively with gender equality. The booking of facilities is another tool used. For example, if girls are underrepresented at the ice arena, they get first priority when the weekly schedule is drawn up at the beginning of the season. The same applies for boys. Eventually, the activity providers could be enabled to log into JämGIS to view the gender distributions in different activities.
‘Gender equality does not necessarily mean that the same number of girls and boys do the same thing.’
‘Gender equality does not necessarily mean that the same number of girls and boys do the same thing. Rather, it is a matter of avoiding that a person’s gender limits what activities he or she can get involved in,’ says Ulf Öhlund, head of the leisure and recreation department.
He emphasises that gender equality requires active involvement of politicians.
‘The whole thing hinges on the politicians. The city’s central goals of equal opportunities for recreation and an even distribution of resources are very important. The politicians must be willing to prioritise and possibly reallocate resources since it may not be possible to increase the budget for leisure and recreation.’
Malin Hedlund and Ulf Öhlund recommend that other municipalities look closer at JämGIS.
‘The gains from using JämGIS are probably even greater in a larger municipality than Lycksele. Then the allocation of resources can be compared geographically as well, for example between urban and rural areas and between different parts of a city, and of course separated by gender.’
Benefits of JämGIS:
- Facilitates effective analysis and decision-making
- Increases knowledge among decision-makers
- Supports assessments of the effects of decisions
- Makes the different situations of women and men more visible
- Works with existing operational systems