Swedish women close to bottom of EU business start-up rankings

While Sweden usually ranks close to the top globally in matters of gender equity, a new study reveals an exception in the case of entrepreneurs.

A study by Företagarna, an organization representing Swedish entrepreneurs, shows that Sweden has fewer women entrepreneurs than almost every other country in Europe.

The study reports that only 3.9 percent of Swedish women run their own companies, well below the EU average of 5.7 percent.

“The results are alarming. Things look pretty bad when it comes to gender equality among entrepreneurs, both from a national and international perspective,” said Företagarna CEO Anna-Stina Nordmark Nilsson.

Only Malta and Ireland received lower gender equity rankings than Sweden for entrepreneurs, according to the study’s comparison of twenty-five EU member states.

Of Sweden’s 290 municipalities, Åre in the western Swedish county of Jämtland received the study’s highest Entrepreneurs Gender Equity Index (Företagarnas Jämställdhetsindex).

Norrbotten county’s Övertorneå municipality in the far north of Sweden received the study’s lowest gender equity ranking.

The study also shows a wide variance of entrepreneurial gender equity across Sweden. In the municipality of Danderyd near Stockholm, women account for 40 percent of entrepreneurs. In contrast, the municipality of Pajala in the north of Sweden has less than one woman for every five entrepreneurs.

Of Sweden’s largest cities, Stockholm ranks the highest in gender equity among those running their own businesses.

According to Nordmark Nilsson, Sweden needs to focus on three areas to improve gender equity for entrepreneurs, including reforms to the social insurance system, teaching entrepreneurship in schools, and opening the public sector for private competition.

The study’s index compiles scores on four measures: the number of men and women business owners, relative age, the number of women in male-dominated industries, and the concentration of entrepreneurs among the female population.


Police in bid to break refugee hunger strike

The Swedish Migration Board (Migrationsverket) has enlisted the help of police negotiators in a bid to try to break hunger strikes by asylum-seekers in Boden, Gävle and Holmsund in northern Sweden.

Police in bid to break refugee hunger strike

“The police have unique skills for talking to people in extremely vulnerable situations,” said Mikael Ribbenvik at the board.

Refugees in Boden and Holmsund have been on hunger strike since mid-April, while asylum-seekers in Gävle began their protest a little over a week ago.

Most of the hunger-strikers are originally from Afghanistan and many have been taken to hospital for treatment in the course of the hunger strike.

All of those involved are seeking residency in Sweden, several have been rejected while others are waiting for rulings or plan to seek asylum elsewhere in the EU.

The Migration Board sought the help of the police on Friday to try to end the protest and the negotiators were deployed in Boden and Gävle on Saturday.

Work to end the hunger strike in Holmsund is due to begin on Sunday.

“We are very worried about their health, it is dangerous to hunger strike,” said Mikael Ribbenvik.

“At the same time we can’t solve a hunger strike by granting residency permits, there is no one who can change a ruling or decision by protest, we are thus looking for other ways to solve the matter.”