Achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls.

Explicit legislation and the work for gender equality long conducted by many actors, both central government actors and civil society organisations, have led to advances meaning that Sweden exhibits a high degree of gender equality, especially in international comparisons. Since 1994, Sweden has required that official statistics related to individuals shall be disaggregated by sex, unless there are special reasons for not doing so. In 2006, the Riksdag established a political goal that women and men are to have the same power to shape society and their own lives. This objective is in turn divided into six targets. The Government has also recently decided to establish a national gender equality agency, which is to commence its activities in January 2018.

The Government has formulated an explicitly feminist policy entailing that gender equality shall play a decisive role in the setting of priorities, both nationally and internationally. At the national level, six targets have been identified for the work: Equal distribution of power and influence; Economic gender equality; Gender-equal education; Equal distribution of unpaid care and household work; Gender-equal health; and An end to men’s violence against women.

Since the 1994 elections, the gender distribution of the Riksdag has been relatively even, and the same is generally true at the local and regional levels for elected representatives in municipalities and county councils. The representation of women, however, has fallen in the two most recent parliamentary elections.

In working life, the employment rate for women as a whole in Sweden is 78 per cent, which is the highest in the EU. However, women work part-time to a greater extent than men and have lower wages than men. On average, women’s wages are 87.5 per cent of men’s wages. In 2010 and 2011, women spent an average of 16 per cent of the day’s hours on unpaid care and household work; for men, the corresponding proportion was just under 13 per cent. In 2015, 38 per cent of all managers in working life were women, and 62 per cent were men. In the boards of central government authorities, the proportion of women is now approximately 50 per cent. In the boards of publicly listed companies, the proportion of women is 32 per cent.

In 2016, the Government presented a ten-year national strategy to prevent and combat men’s violence against women, which is most common in the home and within the family, in all social classes and age groups. A number of authorities have been assigned special tasks linked to this issue.

Sweden fulfils some of the targets linked with the implementation of Goal 5. But a number of challenges remain for achieving gender equality and the empowerment of all women and girls. These include effectively combating all discrimination against women in society, eliminating disparities in salaries and employment rates between women and men, ensuring that unpaid care and household work is more evenly distributed by improving the conditions for gender-equal parenting, and preventing men’s violence against women, including violence and oppression in the name of honour. An important step for achieving gender equality on the labour market is also to reduce the differences in how women and men use parental insurance. Systematic work with gender mainstreaming in all processes and at all levels is a prerequisite for achieving gender equality. In order to achieve the goals set, this work needs to be characterised by an intersectional perspective.

Equality between women and men is a fundamental objective for Sweden’s foreign policy. A dedicated feminist foreign policy has been adopted. It aims to strengthen women’s rights, representation and access to resources. Gender mainstreaming is consistently applied in all Swedish development cooperation, both bilateral and multilateral.


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