• Sweden's news in English
 

'Feminism is about competition'

Solveig Rundquist · 8 Aug 2014, 08:45

Published: 08 Aug 2014 08:30 GMT+02:00
Updated: 08 Aug 2014 08:45 GMT+02:00

Sweden is the most gender-equal country in the EU - but with elections just five weeks away, feminism and gender equality keep popping up in debates, at political events, and on parties' election posters.

But as a torch-bearer of gender equality, why hasn't feminism become a non-issue in Sweden?

"I think one reason is precisely because Sweden is so equal," Christina Bergqvist, political scientist specializing in gender equality at Uppsala University, told The Local. "There are so many women in powerful positions now that they can raise these issues."

In Sweden 45 percent of parliament members are women - one of the highest numbers in the world - although only about 27 percent of floor leaders are female. 

"Even though Sweden is from a comparative perspective very gender-equal, there are still differences between men and women," Bergqvist explained.

"There are still inequalities when it comes to wages, and women do more unpaid work and take more parental leave... But once women get into politics they can bring these issues up."

Although all of the Nordic nations place highly in the ranks of gender equality, Sweden's neighbours have not seemed as focused on feminism lately. Berqvist said that perfectionist Sweden's preoccupation with the issue may simply be due to a different discourse and cultural traditions.

"Political discourse in the Nordic nations look very different, even though the policies are quite similar," she said.

"I don't think that feminism is more accepted in other nations, but there is a different rhetoric. In Denmark for instance there seems to be some resistance to talking about feminism, although the gender equality is quite similar to that of Sweden."

Sweden's feminist party, the Feminist Initiative (Feministiskt initiativ, Fi), has quickly gained support from young voters, increasing its supporters fivefold over the past few years and winning a place in the European Parliament earlier this summer.

However, as the party has no seats in Swedish parliament, it didn't even get to stand on the stage during Almedalen, Sweden's largest political event. But party leader Gudrun Schyman was there anyway, giving a speech from a tiny basement cafe - and people stood outside on the street waiting to get in. 

Nearly all of the other party leaders brought up feminism and gender equality at their speeches.

"It is clear that equality is needed not just on the agenda, but in everything we do, from the state budget to the kitchen table," Center Party leader Annie Lööf said in her speech. 

Meanwhile, Liberal Party (Folkpartiet) leader Jan Björklund wanted to take back the word feminism from the Fi party, saying that "the liberals have been taking feminist initiatives for over one hundred years."

Indeed, the party's autumn campaign slogan is "Feminism without socialism".

Moderate Party leader Fredrik Reinfeldt did not mention feminism - but the trend continued as his speech was interrupted by bare-breasted Femen protesters. 

Bergqvist said she suspected the sudden flood of feminism was spurred by Schyman and Fi.

"Now that the Fi party is gaining support, the other parties have to bring up feminism as well," Bergqvist told The Local. "It's kind of a competition. They have to compete now because gender equality and feminism is clearly an important issue for many voters."

But Berqvist said that a gendered agenda may not be enough to get the party into parliament during elections. Winning a spot in the EU parliament doesn't promise success on the home front, she warned.

"It's one matter when a voter decides who to vote for on the national parliament, and another for the European parliament," Berqvist explained.

"It's easier to vote for something a bit more risky when it's not right at home, when it's in the EU. When voting on the national level most voters go for the safe route, not wanting to waste a vote."

If Fi does get into parliament, Berqvist said, the path may be much smoother from there. Once in, it's generally easier to stay in. 

"It is possible that they will get a seat in parliament," Bergqvist speculated after some thought.

"Schyman is quite a popular person and she's very good at explaining things in simple ways, and people appreciate that. And Fi includes men as well. It's not a women's party, it's a feminist party."

For more news from Sweden, join us on Facebook and Twitter.

Solveig Rundquist (news@thelocal.se)

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
Opinion
'Sweden should target women extremists more'
The radical Islamist Al-Shabaab group in Somalia. Photo: Mohamed Sheikh Nor/TT

'Sweden should target women extremists more'

6 minutes ago

Female extremism is a growing problem in Sweden and the government should do more to prevent it, argue Jessica Katz and Katarina Tracz from the Stockholm Free World Forum.

Julian Assange
Timeline: Julian Assange sex allegations
Julian Assange following a court hearing in 2010. Photo: TT

Timeline: Julian Assange sex allegations

October 28, 2014

Wikileaks founder Julian Assange is fighting extradition to Sweden where he is facing sex assault allegations. The Local looks at the key points in his case so far.

Julian Assange
Sweden edges closer to Assange interrogation
Julian Assange with US pastor Jesse James on the balcony of Ecuador's London embassy. Photo: Yui Mok/PA via AP

Sweden edges closer to Assange interrogation

1 hour ago

Sweden hopes to reach a judicial cooperation deal with Ecuador by the end of the year that would pave the way for prosecutors to question WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange over a rape allegation.

Migrant crisis
Thousands saved by Swedish rescue ship
Migrants being taken to the port of Palermo by Poseidon on August 27th. Photo: AP Photo/Alessandro Fucarini

Thousands saved by Swedish rescue ship

15 hours ago

After saving the lives of 5,295 migrants attempting to cross the Mediterranean sea during a three-month mission, Swedish rescue ship Poseidon has begun its journey home.

Russian jets spotted off Sweden's east coast
A picture of a Russian TU-22 jet taken at another occasion. Photo: AP Photo/Pavel Golovkin

Russian jets spotted off Sweden's east coast

16 hours ago

UPDATED: Swedish military identified and followed two Russian TU-22 fighter planes escorted by a pair of SU-27 aircraft flying east of the island of Gotland on Monday morning.

Video
Swedes show world how to eat fermented herring
Screengrab: Höga Kusten Destinationsutveckling AB/YouTube

Swedes show world how to eat fermented herring

21 hours ago

A fermented herring expert has teamed up with a Swedish tourism company to show the world how surströmming is supposed to be eaten in response to a BuzzFeed video in which Americans turn their noses up at the Swedish delicacy.

Chinese firm in bid to build Swedish railway
China Railway Construction's chief engineer Xu Keliang. Photo: News Øresund

Chinese firm in bid to build Swedish railway

18 hours ago

A Chinese company has made an offer to build a planned Swedish high-speed railway in record time and at a much lower price than previously estimated, Swedish media has reported.

My Swedish Career
'What can I bring to Sweden that is unique?'
Trevor Adams from Salt Lake City, Utah. Photo: Private

'What can I bring to Sweden that is unique?'

1 day ago

Trevor Adams, 23, tells The Local how he went from washing dishes to running his own restaurant franchise after turning his weakness in the Swedish jobs market into a unique strength.

Migrant crisis
EU calls migrant crisis emergency talks
The Swedish coastguard rescuing migrants in the Mediterranean Sea. Photo: Kustbevakningen

EU calls migrant crisis emergency talks

23 hours ago

The European Union has called an emergency meeting of interior and justice ministers in two weeks to find concrete measures to cope with escalating migration.

Sweden moves to save disputed Gotland forest
Environment Minister Åsa Romson at Monday's press conference. Photo: Stig Hammarstedt/TT

Sweden moves to save disputed Gotland forest

19 hours ago

A long-running dispute over a proposed limestone quarry for the Swedish island of Gotland could be coming to an end after the government moved to turn the forest into a protected area.

RECEIVE OUR NEWSLETTER AND ALERTS

Gallery
People-watching: August 28th-30th
National
'Sweden Democrats will run the country'
National
Swedish bin men hailed as heroes after rescuing doomed kitten
National
This Swedish teen was told she was 'too big' to be a model
Lifestyle
Six reasons to stay outdoors this week
Blog updates

28 August

Editor’s blog, August 28th (The Local Sweden) »

"Hello readers, It was all glitz and glamour in Sweden this week as Stockholm Fashion Week got..." READ »

 

18 August

Preteritum eller presens perfekt? (The Swedish Teacher) »

"Hello everyone, It’s grammar time ! I got an interesting question about the past tense vs present..." READ »

 
 
 
Sponsored Article
'It gives you the guts to believe in yourself'
Gallery
People-watching: August 26th
Sponsored Article
Nine places where Stockholm needs more English
National
Rescued baby lemur gets new Stockholm home
National
Stockholm Fashion Week turns island into Mars
Gallery
Property of the week: Stora Essingen, Stockholm
National
Swedish crayfish thieves caught red handed by officers
National
Veil soon to be lifted on new Millennium sequel novel
Gallery
People-watching: August 21st - 22nd
Cecilia Larsson Lantz/imagebank.sweden.se
Presented by Stockholm Academic Forum
International students welcomed to Stockholm
National
The Bridge: What does the third season have in store?
National
Lucky escape for Swedes after 'dead' bear launches attack
National
Syrian asylum seeker comic: 'We don't prefer Sweden any more'
National
Are anti-immigration nationalists really now Sweden's biggest party?
Lifestyle
Baby joy for Swedish crime queen and her wrestler boyfriend
National
Soldier accused of faking first Isis attack in Sweden
National
Fire alert as Sweden sizzles in summer heatwave
Gallery
People-watching: August 19th
National
Meet the Swede who is crazy for Norway’s mass killer
National
Swede's review of night in drunk tank goes viral
National
VIDEO: Swedish teen melts hearts with this incredible Idol audition
Society
What's a Swedish crayfish party?
National
UN: Sweden can't be left to shoulder migrant crisis alone
Gallery
Property of the week: Skogås, Huddinge
National
Men outstrip women for first time
Society
IN PICTURES: Wooden town resembles 'war zone' after huge fire
Gallery
People-watching: August 14th-16th
Sport
Swedish referee shuts viral Facebook page explaining his decisions
Business & Money
A studio in Stockholm or a castle in the countryside?
National
How did twelve skeletons end up beneath a Swedish castle?
Pharmacy to launch plasters for darker skin in anti racism drive
Gallery
People-watching: August 12th
National
TIMELINE: Everything you need to know about the Julian Assange case
National
Millennium sequel author labelled 'grave robber'
National
Two metre long python stops traffic in Malmö
National
IN PICTURES: Shoppers pay tribute to Ikea stabbing victims
Technology
Danish 'monster' pulled out of Swedish waters
National
Bizarre baby baptism for hockey fan
Gallery
Property of the week: Löderup, Ystad
National
Sunshine brightens up Sweden
Sponsored Article
Getting pregnant the Swedish way
Sponsored Article
Outsourcing drives Apreel's Europe growth
Latest news from The Local in Austria

More news from Austria at thelocal.at

Latest news from The Local in Switzerland

More news from Switzerland at thelocal.ch

Latest news from The Local in Germany

More news from Germany at thelocal.de

Latest news from The Local in Denmark

More news from Denmark at thelocal.dk

Latest news from The Local in Spain

More news from Spain at thelocal.es

Latest news from The Local in France

More news from France at thelocal.fr

Latest news from The Local in Italy

More news from Italy at thelocal.it

Latest news from The Local in Norway

More news from Norway at thelocal.no

3,200
jobs available
PSD Media
PSD Media is marketing company that offers innovative solutions for online retailers. We provide modern solutions that help increase traffic and raise conversion. Visit our site at:
psdmedia.se