Green Party split on feminist approach

If a key battleground for the Swedish election in 2006 is to be feminism, then the Green Party wants a piece of the action. That was the message from the opening day of the party's national congress in Gävle.

The Greens, with their male and female spokespeople instead of a single party leader, have long placed issues of equality high up on their political agenda.

But with the launch of the Feminist Initiative (FI), a new party devoted to promoting the role of women in society, and various women’s groups affiliated to the mainstream political parties, the Greens feel they have fallen off the bandwagon.

“There has been a lot of pressure from within the party to raise our profile in this area,” said Maria Wetterstrand, the Greens’ spokeswoman, to news agency TT.

Last year’s congress led to the creation of ‘Green Women’, an association within the party. Now, the head of the association, Ewa Larsson, wants to raise the status of Green Women to an official alliance within the party.

“I can’t see that the Greens are the best on equality,” she said. “Maybe we believe we are – we mix our lists and we were the first party to do that, and we have two equal spokespeople, but we also live in a patriarchal structure.”

Her words echoed those of Sofia Karlsson, one of the FI founders, who explained their lack of a party leader:

“Maybe we won’t have one. We want to build an antipatriarchal organisation. We’re going to mount a serious challenge to the current gender-based power structures.”

At the time, the Greens’ leadership likened the launch of FI to a kick up the backside for the party. Nevertheless, co-leader Maria Wetterstrand said she is not in favour of an all-female group within the party.

“To formally split up men and women is to take a step backwards,” she said. “I hope there won’t be a group of women who set themselves apart.”

Sources: Dagens Nyheter, SR