Tal av Helene Hellmark Knutsson vid Ewora International Women's Day Award 2018 i Lissabon

Lissabon, 25 maj 2018.

Det talade ordet gäller.

Dear Minister Manuel Heitor, dear Professor Gulsun Saglamer, ladies and gentlemen!

I am honoured to be here today to receive the first EWORA International Women's Day Award 2018 on behalf of the Government of Sweden.
I had the opportunity to attend the EWORA conference in Brussels last year.

Today, I am delighted to be back among so many women and men who are determined keep these important issues on the agenda. The power and energy in this room is incredible.


Sweden's government is a feminist government.

And with that statement comes a commitment to promote gender equality through all government policy and in our allocation of resources.
But also, I find it important to set a positive example, to constantly question the lack of gender based equality. And to recognize when there is room for the improvement.

And for me as Minister for higher education and research this is at the very centre of my political ambition.


Since I believe that actions speak louder than words, I will tell you about some of the reforms we have made in Sweden for higher education and research.

In the beginning of my term, I appointed an exert group for gender equality in higher education. With people from different parts of society, including academia. It has been very important for the reforms we have done.


One policy that lies at the heart of our work is our strategy of gender mainstreaming. This is absolutely crucial to create real change.
The strategy is a way of ensuring that all policy has a gender equality perspective and analysis.

In 2016, the Government tasked all public-sector universities and university colleges to make a plan for gender mainstreaming. This can include for example equal opportunities regarding research careers and combating gender-based study choices.

And this year, they have been tasked with presenting how they take account of gender equality when distributing research funding.
And in our research policy bill, Collaboration for knowledge, we introduced several measures for increased gender equality.
Several of the agencies that allocate funding to research and development has also been given instructions about gender mainstreaming and promoting gender equality in their research funding.
And our Swedish Research Council has been tasked with distributing funding to research with a clear equality perspective.


We have worked to improve conditions for young researchers and make career paths more clearly defined to promote mobility. Career development positions should become more uniform and be advertised in open competition at national level – and if possible at international level.

Your chance of getting a position should be based on merits – not on who you know.

We believe that providing clear and equal opportunities is important to be able to achieve gender equality within the field of research.


For me, gender equality is also a question about quality. For research and education to attract and get the best competence – we need to break down barriers constructed of old, non-equal thinking.


But we still have long way to go. The share of female professors in Sweden is still only 27 percent. Despite the fact that more women than men attend and graduate from higher education (and it's been like that, from the seventies).

And this is despite that Sweden is world leading when it comes to the participation of women at the Swedish labour market.

So, our government has stated that 50 per cent of newly recruited professors should be women by 2030 at the latest. And then we have set targets for each state university and university college regarding the proportion of women among newly recruited professors.


And last year, as we all know something very important happened in Sweden and many other countries in the world – the #metoo-movement.
We could read terrible stories from the world of academia. Including testimonies of women leaving the academic world due to sexual harassment. This is unacceptable.

But the #metoo-movement in Sweden also gave me hope. The power of the Swedish movement shows a strength and maturity of our society that makes it possible to highlight this problem. And now we that have the power of decision-making needs to act.

Now, our government has given our Swedish Council for Higher Education the task to show what higher education institutions needs to do to prevent sexual harassment and handle it.

And all public-sector universities and university colleges have also been commissioned to show their prevention and promotion efforts to counteract sexual harassment.


As I see it there is no alternative to having a feminist government.
Achieving a society where women and men have the same possibilities to shape society and their own lives is one of our greatest challenges.
It's a question of human rights for all, a matter of non-discrimination and of democracy.


Finally, thank you again for awarding the Swedish government with this price. Recognizing our work and highlighting the importance of gender equality.

I will continue to follow the important work of EWORA and our mutual efforts for gender equality.

Together we can change academia and our societies to the better!

Thank you!