“Today’s system treats women unfairly systematically by offering inferior and delayed support for getting established in the labour market,” Elin Landell, who led the inquiry, wrote in an opinion piece in the Dagens Nyheter (DN) newspaper.
“In municipalities, case workers tend to prescribe lower demands on women compared to men. Case workers’ approach is clearly coloured by assumptions about foreign-born women as a group.”
According to the inquiry, commissioned by the government last year and tasked with proposing measures to boost employment among foreign-born women, the current employment rate among foreign-born women in Sweden is 60 percent, 10 percent lower than that of foreign-born men.
Landell writes that many of the common explanations offered for women’s lower employment rate, such as the need to care for children or low levels of education, don’t mesh with reality.
She explains that women prefer full-time work to the same extent as men and that most women who immigrated to Sweden in 2005 due to humanitarian reasons or family ties only had one or two children after five years in Sweden.
Only five percent had more than four children.
In order to boost foreign-born women’s chances of entering the labour market, the inquiry proposes a number of measures, including gender-blind matching as well as a new labour market programme which includes enrollment in Swedish language classes and labour market preparation courses.
The programme should be the equivalent of a full-time work and last no more than 24 months.
Other proposals include increased follow-up as well as more local support for newly arrived parents.
“The inquiry shows that early efforts substantially increase the probability of being employed five years after immigrating,” Lindell writes in DN.
“Both men and women therefore need to be offered conditions allowing them to participate in the labour makert and society in general.”