Åsa Regnér har entledigats
Barn-, äldre- och jämställdhetsminister


Tal till minne av Olof Palme av statsråd Åsa Regnér på svenska konsulatet i Lima, Peru

Speech given at the Swedish Consulate in Lima, Peru, on 22 February 2016

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'From Vietnam to Nicaragua, from El Salvador to Palestine, from Sahara to South Africa, across the face of the globe, the flags hang limp and half-mast in loving memory of this giant of justice who had become a citizen of the world, a brother and a comrade to all who are downtrodden.'

- Oliver Tambo (President of the African National Congress, 1986)

Few Swedish politicians are as widely known and renowned throughout the world as Olof Palme. His anti-colonialist and pro-democracy views and actions attracted admiration and support across much of the world.

However, those same views made Olof Palme a controversial figure, both in Sweden and on the international stage.

His style of politics was characterised, above all, by the championing of pacifism and respect for human rights. At global level, Palme was an ally to developing countries. He condemned the abuses of dictatorships on the right and the left, criticising the United States for its bombing of civilians in the Vietnam War, as well as the Communist dictatorships of the Soviet sphere. He supported the government of Salvador Allende, the cause of the Palestinian people and the Czechoslovak uprising of 1968. He spoke out for the boycott of the South African Government during apartheid.

In short, Palme was the founder of Sweden's activist foreign policy. For him, its position as a neutral country between opposing Cold War blocs was no reason to keep quiet. On the contrary, he recognised the opportunity to play the role of mediator. His views and actions in the international arena prompted admiration and debate. He gave legitimacy to and generated international respect for the social democratic model.

At home, Olof Palme worked to strengthen the Swedish welfare system, which had come into being at the beginning of the 20th century. The success of the Swedish model continues to be measured by falling income inequality between the different social classes. Palme enabled those who had previously been excluded, vulnerable sections of the population and minorities, to participate in various areas of society.

During his time as Prime Minister, he carried out reforms to improve working conditions, including employee involvement in decision-making and a 40-hour working week, and introduced state pensions from the age of 65.

He brought in separate taxation of husbands and wives and a new abortion law, and expanded state childcare provision, through both public day nurseries and paternity leave. These reforms created the conditions for women to be able to enter the job market, which was crucial to the improvement of their status in Swedish society.

Olof Palme's legacy is still evident in Swedish politics today. Support for a welfare state, the rule of law, global solidarity and gender equality remain fundamental pillars of our society.

Since the World Conference on Women in Beijing, now 20 years ago, the gender equality agenda has been gaining ground all over the planet. However, progress has been too slow and lack of political will has seen insufficient funding granted for the implementation of a gender equality policy in every country.

The present Swedish Government is the first feminist government in the world. We are working to change this situation, in Sweden and in many countries around the world, as well as within the European Union and the United Nations.

Thirty years ago, on 28 February 1986,the Prime Minister, Olof Palme, was assassinated by an unknown killer while walking around central Stockholm with his wife after leaving a cinema.

Following his death, Anna Lindh, later Foreign Minister, said: 'A person can be killed, but ideas cannot. Your ideas will live on through us.' Thank you.