Forte Talks 2016: Equality for all ≈ action for real

Sometimes, my research can feel removed from the “real” world. Forte Talks 2016, a gathering of researchers, political leaders, and stakeholders from healthcare, labour and welfare sectors, renewed my appreciation for the importance of research in our societies.

forte talks

About a week ago on a sunny morning I was biking across Stockholm to Nacka Strandsmässan. At the same time, approximately 600 attendees from diverse sectors, from Sweden and abroad, were also en route to the same location. We have all gathered to discuss how we can achieve equality – for all, and for real.

Nika_Seblova_ForteTalks2016From the moment of the opening address by Gabriel Wikström, a Swedish minister for Public Health, Healthcare and Sports my brain was challenged, and at times overwhelmed, with ideas (and Swedish). For two days I listened to keynotes speakers, panel discussions, attended scientific presentations and round tables, presented my own poster, and informally conversed with new and old colleagues.

The range of speakers astonished me and it made Forte Talks 2016 feel special. The presentations focused on many themes – migration and integration, vulnerable children, aging population, employment, measuring health and many others. Luckily for you who missed the event, many presentations are available at Forte Talks website. While it is impossible to share all I have learned during the two days, few themes arose across all parts of the event.

Complex world   complex problems. You have probably heard this one over and over again. Our world is global, intertwined and the systems we created are complex. We need to understand the complexity to act. This may mean that time of big sweeping reforms is over, as Gabriel Wikström said in his speech.

Kate Pickett, an epidemiologist and co-founder of Equality Trust

Complex individuals ≈ flexible systemsAll of us have many sides. A immigrant child can have nightmares, experience post traumatic stress, but also have a lot of strength, power and energy to explore and engage. And then he/she grows and changes. People are a complex whole – not pieces that you can separate and sent to different agencies. Agencies should be there for peoples sake, not institutional one. 

Complexity ≈ collaboration, solidarity and action. To answer the complexity, we need to collaborate across agencies, create solidarity on individual level, by relating to one another and our history. And how to do that? In a way simply – by doing, by trying.The complexity often seem daunting, we want all the answers, we want evidence and research to assure best outcomes. And research, especially concrete and applicable research, plays and will play an essential role. It gives us the starting point, our best guess of how the destination will look. However, we also need to start walking towards it.

Dilsa Demirbag-Sten, Berättarministeriet, NGO for disadvantaged children

My conclusion from Forte Talks 2016 is that if we want our destination to be equality for all, and for real, we need to action, for real. In face of daunting complexity, we need to dare to experiment, think of new approaches not alone, but together. But none needs to do everything, we all can do something. Personally, Forte Talks 2016, reminded me what role research can play and what sort of a research I want to do.

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