• Sweden's news in English
 

'Feminism is about competition'

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 stories about Sweden, join us on Facebook and Twitter

Solveig Rundquist (news@thelocal.se)

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
Swedish Astrid Lindgren prize for African group
Books used by the winning PRAESA group. Photo: TT

Swedish Astrid Lindgren prize for African group

An association that promotes reading among children has become the first African group to win the Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award, the world's largest prize for children's and young people's literature. READ  

Opinion
Swedish firms must learn from Saudi business row
A Swedish workplace. Photo: Suzanne Walström/Image Bank Sweden

Swedish firms must learn from Saudi business row

Swedish companies worried about the nation's business links with the Arab world should instead be focussing on their own responsibility to promote and demonstrate ethical behaviour, argues business rights advisor Ruben Brunsveld. READ  

Canadian star sought for Sweden hockey attack
André Deveaux (left), Jens Hellgren and Mike Vernace celebrate a 0-2 win over Västerås on Sunday. Photo: Andreas Hillergren/TT

Canadian star sought for Sweden hockey attack

A Swedish prosecutor has ordered the arrest of Canadian ice hockey player André Deveaux after he was caught on video violently slashing an opponent in a pre-game warm-up for his club side in Ängelholm. READ  

US spy agency to feature in Stieg Larsson sequel
The actors playing Lisbeth Salander and journalist Mikael Blomkvist in the original Swedish movies based on the books. Photo. TT

US spy agency to feature in Stieg Larsson sequel

The sequel to Swedish author Stieg Larsson's best-selling Millenium crime trilogy, due for release in August, kicks off with an artificial intelligence intrigue involving a US spy agency, the book's publishers have revealed. READ  

Swedes rescue Syrian refugee's cat in Sicily
Mela the cat arrived in Sweden on Saturday. Photo: Minna Lind

Swedes rescue Syrian refugee's cat in Sicily

A Syrian refugee will be granted her wish this Easter after staff at a Swedish animal shelter rescued her long lost cat from quarantine in Sicily. READ  

Profit concerns push Swedish schools abroad
Pupils at the English School in Täby, one of several hugely popular schools run by Internationella Engelska Skolan. Photo: Pontus Lundahl/TT

Profit concerns push Swedish schools abroad

Sweden’s publicly funded free school model has attracted huge interest in the UK and elsewhere, but with profits in the schools sector under scrutiny from regulators the biggest firms are now expanding overseas. READ  

Sweden unemployment stable as EU reports dip
Immigrants, scour a newspaper's job pages.Photo: Bertil Ericson/TT

Sweden unemployment stable as EU reports dip

The EU has recorded the lowest jobless rate across the 28 nation bloc since 2012, with unemployment in Sweden remaining largely stable over the last three months. READ  

Jay Z rebrands Nordic streaming service
Jay Z launching the service. Photo: Brad Barket/TT

Jay Z rebrands Nordic streaming service

Rap mogul Jay Z launched a rebranded music streaming service on Monday with major star backing, after buying the Scandinavian sites Tidal and Wimp and their parent company Aspiro earlier this month. READ  

Beaver bites bus passenger in Sweden
Not the beaver in question. Photo: Daniel Rose/Shutterstock

Beaver bites bus passenger in Sweden

A man who was bitten by a beaver at a bus stop in Tyresö, south of Stockholm, has been describing the snappy attack. READ  

UN has 'great interest in Sweden' says PM
Sweden's PM Stefan Löfven. Photo: TT

UN has 'great interest in Sweden' says PM

Sweden’s Prime Minister Stefan Löfven has told reporters in New York that the United Nations appears highly interested in his country, as he lobbies to get the Nordic nation a seat on the UN Security Council. READ  

RECEIVE OUR NEWSLETTER AND ALERTS
Gallery
Property of the week: Åreda
Sponsored Article
Why Stockholm is the 'Boston of Europe'
Was Swedish TV host too harsh on nationalist leader Åkesson?
National
Travelling over Easter? Don't miss our guide to rail disruption
Sponsored Article
'Sweden must embrace openness and diversity'
Blog updates

27 March

Celebrating Three Great English Exports In 2015 (The Diplomatic Dispatch) »

"Deputy Head of Mission Aidan Liddle joins us for another guest blog today. In 2015, England..." READ »

 

27 March

Editor’s blog, March 27th (The Local Sweden) »

"Hi readers, Europe remains in shock following the Germanwings plane crash in the Alps that killed 150..." READ »

 
 
 
Scandinavian airlines change cockpit rules after Greenwings crash
National
Sweden remembers Nobel laureate Tomas Tranströmer
Politics
Why petrol prices are going up
Gallery
People-watching: March 28th
What's on in Sweden: March 26th - April 2nd
Stieg Larsson's partner blasts Millennium trilogy sequel
Society
How to never miss your favourite weekly features on The Local
Gallery
People-watching: March 25th
National
Which words are changing in Sweden's latest dictionary?
National
Is this house 'un-Swedish'?
National
Sweden pays tribute to victims of Germanwings Alps crash
National
Neo-Nazi activity rising in Sweden
National
How to make Swedish Waffles
Gallery
Property of the week: Torslanda - Hjuvik
National
Stray dog Arthur moves in with Swedish owners
Sponsored Article
Ten tips for succeeding as a start-up in Sweden
National
Sweden triples maximum limit at asylum centres
Gallery
People-watching: March 21st
National
Why elderly Swedes are among the world's happiest people
National
TIMELINE: Gothenburg shootings
National
Can Sweden's feminist party score success in neighbouring Norway?
National
Why Brits can't get enough of Sweden
Gallery
IN PICTURES: Sweden's solar eclipse
National
What's on in Sweden this week
Royal wedding countdown begins
National
Viking ring reveals Islamic ties
National
TIMELINE: Julian Assange sex allegations in Sweden
Gallery
People-watching: March 18th
National
One in three Russian diplomats are spies, says Sweden's Security Service
National
Hitchcock opera set to hit Gothenburg stage
Gallery
IN PICTURES: Northern Lights on show across Sweden
Technology
Why Swedish pop star Robyn is pushing for more girls in tech
Gallery
Property of the week: Umeå
National
Introducing Sweden's Eurovision 2015 entry Måns Zelmerlöw
Gallery
People-watching: March 13th - 15th
National
Why have Swedish prosecutors made a U-turn in Julian Assange case?
Sponsored Article
How Sweden and India can work together
Politics
Who's the new young leader of the Christian Democrats?
Travel
Why are Swedes so obsessed with Mallorca?
Gallery
Princess Estelle celebrates her mother's name day in Stockholm
National
What's on in Sweden this week
National
Obama's anti-Semitism team heads to Stockholm and Malmö
Sponsored Article
Expert US tax preparation for Americans in Sweden
Sponsored Article
Stockholm job fair helps immigrant entrepreneurs
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

3,428
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