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Our Impact

Case study: Crossing Boarders

Swedish Change Leader Alumni Ida Östensson runs Crossing Boarders, a foundation working towards an equal and inclusive society: “Our primary approach is not to support single individuals one at a time, but rather to push system structures to take responsibility. This will in turn lead to change for many individuals.”

Ida Östensson was selected to join the Reach for Change incubator in 2010. Being active in the male-dominated skateboard culture, Ida had first hand experience of how children are excluded and denied the right to pursue their passions because of gender or background. To address this issue, Ida developed a concrete idea for how organizations can reach and include target groups that they normally don’t. During her time in the Incubator, Ida further developed the idea into an eightstep methodology – the Equality Effect – and today over 10,000 people have been trained in this method.

To achieve her mission, Ida identified the need to go beyond training individuals and organizations, to address the root causes of gender exclusion, e.g. the structural power imbalance between different groups in society. Actively engaging in public debate with a solution-focused approach, Ida has become something of a national authority; she has been invited to Sweden’s largest news channels on more than 20 different occasions.


Ida works to transform the formal and informal power structures that maintain the power imbalance on three levels:

A change in mindset“As part of our work with the Equality Effect, Crossing Boarders has collected and shared a number of examples showing that inclusion is possible. This has made a critical contribution to the fact that it is no longer acceptable for organizations to say ‘We have tried, and it cannot be done’. Crossing Boarders has helped push the mind-set towards ‘We have tried...and we need to try again, in a new way’.”

A change in view of responsibility“A few years back, when an organization had trouble attracting individuals of certain demographics (gender, ethnicity etc.), a common viewpoint was that those individuals were not inspired enough to approach the organization. Now, a majority of organizations acknowledge that the issue is not that some target groups lack inspiration to approach, but rather that organizations do not know what measures to take in order to reach and include them. Today, it is the organizations that are held responsible when a target group is underrepresented – not the target group.”

A change in political outlook“At the core of the gender power imbalance are questions relating to sexuality and sexual abuse. During a period of six months Crossing Boarders, together with the Femtastic collective, initiated the campaign FATTA to encourage political parties to put the topic of consensual sex at the top of their agenda, and as a result the current legislation was forcefully debated and is now under review. A critical success factor was the ‘FATTA MAN’ project [initiated in cooperation with Allmänna Arvsfonden, Femtastic and Men for Equality], which approached the issue from the men’s point of view. Moreover we challenged Key Influencers intensively; on Twitter, in person, via email – everywhere. It was fascinating to see how a politician would meet with me on Monday, and on Tuesday repeat to the media exactly what I had told them.”


Reach for Change follows the development and results of our Incubator Alumni to understand if, and how, they create significant impact on a societal level. During 2015, we will continue to explore how we can measure and verify progress towards system change.

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