Anförande om jämställdhet av statsminister Magdalena Andersson vid Summit for Democracy

Publicerad

Digitalt, den 8 december 2021 (på engelska)
Det talade ordet gäller.

Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen,

Welcome to today’s discussion on “Empowering Prosperity: Advancing the Status of Women to Advance the Status of Democracy”.

The Government of Sweden is honoured to co-host this event with the Government of the United States. And I am happy to open this meeting together with United State Trade Representative, Katherine Tai.

Elevating the status of women and girls is key to fostering healthy, stable, and inclusive democracies.

According to a report by UN Women earlier this year, only 25 per cent of the world’s parliamentarians, and 21 per cent of government ministers are women.

In all the countries of the world, there are currently only 10 women serving as elected Heads of State.

Many associate Sweden with gender equality, democracy, and socially progressive policies. But this has not always been the case.

Changes came about thanks to a diverse group of strongly committed actors who all pushed in the same direction. Women’s movements, women’s rights organisations and women in political parties were on the front line in the fight for gender equality, demanding representation, and a voice.

Today, Sweden has near equal representation of women and men in most elected decision-making bodies at national, regional and local level. This improvement would not have been possible without political will. And once implemented, equal representation is very hard to go back on.

Ultimately, countries and organisations must make up their minds.

Do we want equal representation or not?

Do we want to employ the full potential of both halves of the population or not?

In 1994, the Swedish Prime Minister Ingvar Carlsson decided that his new Government would consist of an equal number of women and men. He formed the world’s first gender-neutral government where 11 of the 22 ministers were women. And ever since, gender neutral governments have been the normality in Sweden.

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I want to highlight three key reforms that made a real difference in achieving gender equality in Sweden:

  • access to affordable childcare,
  • individual taxation, and
  • parental insurance with more equal division of parental leave.

Before public and universal childcare was introduced in Sweden in the 1970s, women faced the impossible daily schedules that included balancing paid work with full responsibility for unpaid housework and childcare. The reform we imposed increased women’s prospects to have better opportunities to enter the labour market, and to advance and progress once they are there.

In 1971, Sweden introduced individual taxation, as opposed to household taxation. This reform incentivised the lowest earner in the household – again, almost always a woman – to pursue their own career. Simply put, this reform made it more beneficial for women to seek employment, increasing both women’s independence and overall income growth.

Lastly, I would like to highlight the introduction of a gender-neutral paid parental leave benefit in 1974. This policy is aimed at supporting a dual-earner family model, which is a cornerstone to achieving gender equality and women’s empowerment

In parallel with these reforms, policies and legislation related to sexual and reproductive health and rights has been essential in the push for gender equality.

This work has also had a fundamental impact on women’s full participation in the labour market and thus women’s economic empowerment, political participation and representation in society at large. And our economy has grown as a result.

In other words, it makes no sense – economically or otherwise – to exclude half the population from the labour market and from active participation in the economy.

In my Government, gender equality is mainstreamed into policymaking on a broad front. Every minister is responsible for the advancement of gender equality in their respective policy area.

In our budget process we now require that all government ministries include a gender-equality impact assessment in their budget proposals to the Ministry of Finance. This was introduced when I was the Minister for Finance. If the analysis is not provided, the proposal will be sent back for revision.

Ladies and gentlemen,

In 2014, Sweden was the first country in the world to proclaim a feminist foreign policy. In practice, this means that we apply a systematic gender perspective to everything we do with the aim to strengthen women’s and girls’ representation, rights and resources.

I am proud that Sweden has been part of establishing a feminist foreign policy as a new standard, and that several countries have followed. We are now seven countries that pursue a feminist foreign policy – In addition to Sweden - Canada, France, Luxembourg, Spain and Mexico. And, just recently, Germany has joined us.

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No democracy is without its flaws, and the ambition to constantly improve is essential. This applies to all of us, Sweden included.

We have an impressive group of participants in today’s event, and I am very much looking forward to our discussions.

Let’s take this opportunity to learn from each other about how to advance the status of women – a prerequisite for a sustainable democracy.

We are happy to promote these issues and co-host this meeting together with the US and ambassador Tai.

Thank you.