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Biståndsminister Isabella Lövins anförande under GPEDC:s sidoevent: "Using partnership to deliver on the SDGs: The case of gender responsive budgeting"

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New York 26 september 2015.

Det talade ordet gäller.

When I was a child, Sweden went through a revolution. My mother, grandmother and great grandmother had fought together with women throughout Sweden to become full citizens – to gain rights, resources and representation.

I bear the fruits of their struggle.

I honour them by keeping up the fight for women’s rights. Their gains can never be taken for granted.

Consequently, I am proud to represent the world’s first feminist government. Today, Sweden is ranked as one of the most equal societies in the world – but we are far from perfect. And my Government has high ambitions.

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But first let me take you back in time. Why has Sweden come so far? Well it has not been purely by luck. It has been through a strong women’s movement AND brave politicians with a clear vision. Who dared to challenge prejudices and traditional values that kept women in the home.

Politics is nothing but will. Politics should be driven by values. And while in office, politics is about turning those values into concrete reforms.

I want to share a few concrete political reforms that have been key in our gender equality revolution:

  • Maternal health care – providing access to professional midwives and education about sexual and reproductive health and rights. A century and a half ago, more women died in pregnancy in Sweden than in Nepal today. Now almost all women survive. Exercising control over your own body is also the first building block of a truly democratic society, and key to economic development. Girls who become mothers are often forced to quit school, perpetuating the cycle of poverty for their children.
  • The abolition of the joint taxation system. This reform meant that spouses were taxed individually and not jointly. This is of relevance, for example, when it comes to pensions that are linked to how much tax you have paid throughout your working life.
  • The expansion of high-quality child care provision, the rapid expansion of preschools, and individual parental insurance. Both spouses are equally entitled by law to parental leave, and we currently have two ‘daddy months’ which only the father can use. In 2016, three months will be reserved for fathers.

These reforms have made it possible for women to take a proper step into the labour market and become financially independent, and they have challenged the perception of femininity and masculinity – enabling my mother, my sisters and me to leave the narrow roles of mainly caregivers and service providers.

This has released the energy and potential of 50 per cent of the population.

It has made our society more diversified, more dynamic, more intelligent and more participatory.

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Although Sweden has come a long way toward gender equality – we are not perfect and we are still struggling to achieve equal pay for equal work, crack the glass ceiling and end men’s violence against women.

One effective tool to achieve gender equality is the budget.

That is why my Government has worked with gender-responsive budgeting and gender mainstreaming in the Swedish central government budget for 2016. Our ambition is that the effects on gender equality should be taken into account in every policy area – be it in housing construction, school reforms or infrastructure initiatives.

Gender budgeting is not a theoretical policy discussion – it is about putting your money where your mouth is.

Our work nationally gives us a voice internationally. My ambition is for the budget for international development cooperation to be 100 per cent gender integrated.

Increasing gender equality is not just about allocating resources. It also releases resources and fuels development. Investing in women pays off.

  • Girls and women spend 90 per cent of their earned income on their families, while men spend only 30–40per cent.
  • Closing the gender gap in agriculture could lift 100–150 million people out of hunger (FAO, 2011).

Most of us realise the importance of narrowing gender gaps and respecting the rights of all women and girls. But this stands in stark contrast to the evidence. Discrimination of women and girls still exists around the globe. All throughout the life cycle.

We see the evidence, so it is time to act.  

The implementation of the 2030 Agenda requires political commitment, financial resources and action at all levels of society. Working with other stakeholders, not least women’s organisations, will be vital to achieving results.

We stand ready to deliver on all counts.