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GENDER EQUALITY

Swedish women’s pensions lower than men’s

Yet another Swedish report proves that Swedish women draw the short straw when it comes to pensions, which are only worth 80-90 percent of men's on average.

Prolonged maternity leave, periods of unemployment and part-time work while the children are young lowers women’s pensions to levels way under men’s.

Economist Göran Normann conducted an investigation on behalf of Länsförsäkringar Bank, looking at men and women’s pensions levels in Sweden. With 24 independent regional insurance companies and the jointly owned Länsförsäkringar AB, Länsförsäkringar is Sweden’s only customer-owned and locally based banking and insurance group.

The men and women in Normann’s report were all of the same age and from four different professions. Normann’s concluded that women’s pensions were 80-90 percent of men’s on average.

“And when you look at those women who had the lowest incomes, then there is a marked difference compared to men. An average woman in this group has a pension that is roughly 70 percent of her average male colleague”, Göran Normann told the TT news agency, referring mainly to people in the nursing profession.

The main reason for the gaping inequality is that women often have lower salaries than men. In addition, in order to combine family life with work, many more women than men work part-time, which lowers their income and thus their pensions.

Many mothers often take a longer period of absence from work to extend their maternity leave, which leaves them without pension payments. Some women also go through periods of unemployment in order to look after young children.

Although the Swedish social system does pay women to be off work while on parental leave or looking after a sick child, this is far less important for one’s pension than an actual salary.

Göran Normann believes that one way to create greater equality between the sexes would be for men to contribute towards their partner’s pension, if and when she works part-time while the children are growing up.

“It is important that there be some kind of compensation between partners regarding pension points. The man could give part of his pension to the woman”, he said.

GENDER EQUALITY

Swedish companies ‘soon least gender equal in the Nordic countries’: report

The share of women on the management of listed Swedish companies has stood still for five years, meaning Sweden risks soon having the least gender-equal business world of any Nordic country, a new report released for International Women's Day has found.

Women and men in a board meeting
According to a new report, Sweden is not set to achieve board equality until 2042. Lieselotte van der Meijs/imagebank.sweden.se

According to the 10th annual report of AllBright, a group which campaigns for better representation of women on company boards and management teams, Sweden is set to be overtaken by Denmark to become the Nordic country with the lowest share of women in the management teams of the top companies by 2022, losing a leadership position it had as recently as 2015. 

“Sweden is living on its past glories. Over the past five years, the share of women in the management teams of the biggest Swedish companies has stayed still at 25 percent, which was a high share five years ago. But it no longer looks that flattering compared to the neighbours,” Amanda Lundeteg, the campaign group’s chief executive, told the TT newswire. 

“Norway, Finland and Iceland have now caught up with Sweden, and Denmark is well on the way. If the trend continues, Sweden will be the worst in the Nordics in two years.” 

But while Sweden has stood still when the analysis is limited to the top 30 companies, there has been more progress when looking more broadly at the top 300 listed companies.  

There, the share of women has grown by 67 percent over the last decade, nearly twice as fast as the growth in the preceding decade, while the share of listed companies which could be considered gender equal has increased from 5 percent to 19 percent. 

“We have got a lot done, but we still have most still to do,” Lundeteg said. “We also see that the number of woman chief executives has doubled over the last decade.” 

She said that having more female chief executives was likely to itself further bolster gender equality as female chief executives are significantly more likely to recruit other women. 

“Having a woman at a high level can have quite a significant effect on equality. The chief executive position is the key one for gender equality across the whole executive board,” she said.  

According to AllBright’s analysis, Sweden is not set to achieve board equality until 2042, meaning it will miss the UN goal of gender equal power and influence by 2030. 

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