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Sweden plans equality agency

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08:53 CET+01:00
Sweden, usually cited as a world leader in women's rights, hopes to boost its efforts even further with the proposed creation of a new gender equality agency, the government said on Tuesday.

"We are the most gender equal (country) in the world, but we want another world. We want a world where women are not paid less because they are women, we want a world where you are not afraid to walk down the street because you are a woman," Gender Equality Minister Jens Orback told AFP.

More than 40 percent of Sweden's members of parliament are women, half of the cabinet members are women, and more than 80 percent of women working age hold down jobs.

But women are still paid less than men in general, and in the business sector women are poorly represented in senior management. Of 271 companies listed on the Stockholm stock exchange, only five have women chief executives.

Orback said the government hopes to create an independent, national agency to coordinate existing gender equality projects, as well as compile information and research to serve as the basis for recommendations on future policy changes.

The government will present a proposal to parliament in March and the agency could be created in early 2007.

But it is not yet known if the government has the necessary support in parliament to carry through its plan.

Does Sweden need an equality agency? Discuss!

AFP

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