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WOMEN

Swedish women battle mounting debts

Women are experiencing increasing problems servicing SMS loans and for the first time are defaulting at the same levels as men, according to a new survey from the Swedish Enforcement Authority (Kronofogden).

Swedish women battle mounting debts

“Traditionally men’s debt has dominated, but in 2010 we detected indications that women’s percentage share of unpaid SMS loans had increased. Last year women stood for 50 percent of the cases,” said Cecilia Fredholm at the authority.

Fredholm explained the situation in that consumer habits and society have changed.

“Not that long ago, white goods were the only things you could buy on credit, today you can buy clothes, food and petrol and pay after the fact,” she said.

The authority identifies the trend as particularly concerning as women often lack savings as a result of pay disparities and weaker social networks.

“Our conclusion is that women are more exposed when they experience problems with their private finances,” Fredholm said in a statement.

Fredholm is heading a project to target female debt and as part of this push, the authority has announced the launch of a new website.

The website contains collated information and concrete advice to enable women to get their financial house in order. Furthermore there are testimonies from other women who have experienced similar precarious financial straits.

The survey showed that are significant regional disparities with regards to SMS debt defaults, with women in Jämtland, Halland and Kronoberg counties particularly vulnerable to default.

The authority appealed other actors in Swedish society for more help in disseminating information to Sweden’s women.

“We need help to spread information and communicate knowledge,” Cecilia Fredholm said, underlining that knowledge is crucial to addressing the situation.

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SMS

Sweden to send mass text to population on Christmas Covid rules

Sweden's public health agency is to send out text messages to every mobile phone number in the country hoping to drum home recommendations designed to prevent an explosion of infection over Christmas and the New Year.

Sweden to send mass text to population on Christmas Covid rules
Morgan Olofsson, communications chief for MSB, Home Minister Mikael Damberg and Digital Minister Anders Ygeman announce the texts at a press conference on Friday. Photo: Jessica Gow/TT
“We are now in a difficult situation ahead of Christmas and New Year and we want to give the Swedish people yet another reminder,” Sweden's home minister Mikael Damberg said at a press conference announcing the mass text on Friday morning. 
 
Sweden's Public Health Agency last Tuesday issued new guidelines which come into force on Monday December 14th, requesting that people in Sweden limit their socialising over the festive period if possible to a bubble of eight people, avoid new contacts, meet outside as much as possible, and avoid public transport as much as possible.
 
 
The mass text messaging is being done together with Sweden's four biggest telecoms operators, Telia, Tele2, Telenor and Tre. According to the TT newswire, there are about 22 million mobile phone contracts in the country of 10 million people. 
 
“They have come forward voluntarily to help carry this out practically. They are performing an important service to reduce the spread of infection in Sweden,” said digitalisation minister Anders Ygeman. 
 
The text in the SMS, in Swedish, will read: “Information from the authorities: Follow the new tighter advice in order to stop the spread of infection. Read more on the Krisinformation website.” 
 
It will not itself mention any of the actual recommendations for Christmas, instead enjoining recipients to go online and check up on what they are. 
 
At the press Damberg reiterated that, although there are no fines or other sanctions for not following the recommendations, they should not be seen as voluntary.  
 
“The recommendations from the agencies aren't some kind of tips for the public — they should be followed,” he said. 
 
At the press conference Morgan Olofsson, the crisis preparedness agency's communication chief, said that the text messages “obviously and unfortunately” could only be sent out in Swedish and encouraged Swedes with an immigrant background and good Swedish language skills to translate the message for those who understand Swedish less well.  
 
“We think this way — if all of you who read this message, if you help, in your language to the extent that you can, to  spread the message further, then everyone will understand how serious the situation is, and that way we can save lives,” he said. 
 
The Krisinformation website itself contains links to information about the coronavirus in Sweden in other languages, which you can find here. The Local has also published a Q&A about what the rules mean in English.

 
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