Government equality unit slammed for inequality

The Swedish government's unit for coordinating equality policies and distributing funding to equality organisations has come under fire for its own inequality: only 3 out of 28 employees are men.

“It’s not good. A more equal gender balance is important to show that they are serious about these issues,” said Eva Nikell at the Equality Ombudsman’s office, Jämo, to TT.

The Government Offices’ equality plan states that an equal gender balance should exist “within all jobs and within all categories of staff”.

Indeed, other departments within the Ministry of Industry have a far more equal balance of the sexes. Excluding the equality unit, the number of women in all other departments is between 40% and 60% of the total staff.

One of the goals of the government’s equality policy is a fair division of power and influence between men and women. Jens Orback, Sweden’s Minister for Equality, admits that the lack of men involved in the government’s equality work is a problem.

But he maintains that it’s hard to avoid, since there are not enough competent men coming forward when jobs are advertised.

When news agency TT asked Orback how he expected to bring equality to society if he couldn’t even bring it to his own equality unit, the minister was defiant.

“If you look at what we’ve done within the department I think we’ve done rather well,” he said.

“We have reached the targets we set, to have an equal distribution on the boards. It’s different with the equality unit since you can choose new board members but you can’t just get rid of staff.”

“But there ought to be a more equal gender distribution,” he acknowledged.

Eva Nikell said that the lack of relevant competence among men was a valid reason for the prevalence of women in the equality unit.

“The fact that men are not qualified is in itself an equality problem,” she said.

TT/The Local