Iceland hosts first major international #MeToo conference
2019-09-18 00:47

The first major international conference exploring the #MeToo movement is taking place in Reykjavik on Tuesday, hosted by the Icelandic prime minister, who said she hoped it would contribute to “relegating sexual harassment to history”.


The three-day gathering will explore why the movement first gained traction, and the effect it has had across different countries and sectors. Women with disabilities, care workers and migrant women whose voices have not typically been heard since the movement began as a hashtag in October 2017 will be among the participants from around the world to share their stories, and discuss how to keep up the momentum to tackle sexual abuse and assault.

这次的会议为期三天,将探讨#MeToo运动何以一开始就引人注目,及其在不同国家和行业产生的影响。自2017年10月,#MeToo运动以一个标签为肇始以来,残障妇女、女性护工和移民妇女的声音往往没有为人所闻,而在这次会议上,她们将与来自世界各地的与会者们一起分享她们的故事,并讨论如何维持住解决性 虐待和性侵犯问题的势头。

The prime minister, Katrín Jakobsdóttir, told the Guardian that the conference was intended to “create a platform for an international and in-depth conversation about the impact and the future of #MeToo”.

冰岛首相Katrín Jakobsdóttir告诉《卫报》,此次会议意在“创造一个用以进行关于#MeToo运动的影响和未来的国际深度对话的平台。”

She added: “The movement revealed epidemic levels of sexual and gender-based harassment and abuse that women across society and the world are exposed to. We owe it to all those women, to the women who couldn’t speak up and to future generations, to create policies and push for transformative change, so that the realities unveiled by #MeToo will soon belong to the history books.”


Eighty panelists are scheduled to appear, including Purna Sen, the UN’s spokeswoman on addressing sexual harassment, the American political activist Angela Davis, Catherine Mayer, co-founder of the UK’s Women’s Equality party, the playwright Justina Kehinde and the positive masculinity campaigner Gary Barker.

预计将有80名小组成员出席会议,包括联合国解决性骚扰问题发言人Purna Sen、美国政治活动家Angela Davis、英国妇女平等党联合创始人Catherine Mayer、剧作家Justina Kehinde和积极的男性活动家Gary Barker。

Halla Gunnarsdóttir, the Icelandic government’s adviser on gender equality, and one of the main organisers of the conference, said #MeToo Moving Forward would analyse what it revealed about different countries, including the USA and Britain, where it has been explosive since the emergence of sexual abuse allegations against the film producer Harvey Weinstein, which he denies, as well as in the Nordic countries where it has dominated headlines.

冰岛性别平等政府顾问Halla Gunnarsdóttir同时也是这次会议的主要组织者之一,她表示#MeToo Moving Forward将会分析其在英美等国揭露出来的事实,自对电影制片人Harvey Weinstein提出性侵指控——而他本人否认——以来,这种情况一直是爆炸性的,当然还有北欧诸国,在这里,相关新闻是头条的常客。

The conference organisers hoped to produce a communique of concrete proposals “if and when we come up with them,” she said.


“We want to expand the conversation, to listen to the voices we haven’t yet heard, including those with more insecure employment whose status might have affected their ability to file a complaint, including women in low-skilled, low-paid professions, care workers, domestic workers, migrant workers, disabled women, who have often not been able to organise themselves in the same way that others have.


“We want to look at the themes that run across these groups, including consent, justice and the backlash.”


The idea for the conference started 18 months ago as “a tiny idea in my head,” Halla said. Invitations were sent out to a range of potential speakers with 50 originally expected to attend. “But almost everyone we asked said yes, so it’s much bigger than we expected with people telling us they welcomed the possibility to discuss this, and just this, in a concentrated way over three days.”


More than 800 participants have registered to attend – almost twice as many as expected. It is free of charge, and panel discussions will be livestreamed. 


#MeToo Moving Forward is taking place under the auspices of the Nordic Council of Ministers, the presidency of which Iceland currently holds. Women’s rights have long been at the heart of the politics of Katrín, who became Iceland’s second female prime minister almost two years ago. It is also core part of the Left-Green movement to which she belongs.

#MeToo Moving Forward正在北欧部长理事会的主持下进行,该委员会目前正由冰岛担任主席国。妇女权利长期以来都在Katrín的政策中占有主要地位,她在大约两年前成为了冰岛史上第二位女首相。而在她所属的Left-Green运动里,妇女权利也处于核心地位。

Halla said surprise had been expressed that Iceland, like all Nordic countries often viewed as exemplary for its social welfare policies, was choosing to host the event, after the most publicised #MeToo scandals had taken place in the USA and Britain.


“We felt that we’re obliged to hold it. Iceland is often seen as the number one in the world, receiving constant recognition for its strong welfare system and equal rights and held up as a gender equality utopia. But we thought: ‘If this is as good as it gets it’s not good, is it?’” she said.


#MeToo had revealed many cases of systemic harassment in non-unionised jobs in Iceland, she said, and thousands of women had taken to Facebook to share their stories. “We had hoped it did not happen here, until we started talking about it and found out it did,” she said.


In Sweden the focus has mainly been on the Swedish Academy, home to the Nobel prize, which was beset with sexual harassment claims involving its former head. Sex workers in Sweden have also been among those to speak out. In Norway, the #MeToo revelations have largely played out in the political world.


“What #MeToo did was to bring the conversation into every lunch-break in every office, where everyone started talking about what happened to them and sharing their stories, it suddenly opened a Pandora’s box,” Halla said.


“But we’re still looking into what #MeToo actually is. Is it a revolution? A subversion? Just a small window of opportunity, or something bigger? What I’m hoping is that this conference helps to keep the momentum going, and if there’s a backlash that it helps us to challenge that backlash.”


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