‘Men need to be involved in the fight for equality’

'Men need to be involved in the fight for equality'
Sweden's Prime Minister Stefan Löfven with UN HeForShe campaigner and actress Emma Watson.. Photo: Maria Davidsson/TT
Politicians need to consider gender equality early on in their decision making and involve both women and men in the process, argues Åsa Regnér, Sweden’s Minister for Gender Equality Åsa Regnér in an exclusive debate article for The Local.
As Minister for Gender Equality in the world’s first feminist government, I am pleased to represent a government that is demonstrating a greater resolve to achieve a gender-equal society. 
The overall objective of our gender equality policy is equal power for women and men, and girls and boys, to shape society and their own lives. This is about making a difference through our choice of priorities, paths and resource allocation, so that women and men, girls and boys can live equal lives in which they can realize their full potential and use it for the good of society. Gender equality is created where resources are allocated, where standards are set and where decisions are made.
A feminist government carries out a gender equality analysis early in the decision-making process to ensure that the gender equality perspective is present from the outset across all policy areas. This strategy – gender mainstreaming – means not only greater gender equality, but also more effective measures.
Our gender-responsive budgeting means that we evaluate the gender equality effects of budget policy. We integrate a gender perspective into all levels of the budgetary process and redistribute income and expenditure to promote gender equality and eliminate injustice based on gender. 
All ministers are responsible for ensuring that a gender perspective is included in policy formulation in their areas of responsibility. The aim is better opportunities and, in the longer term, better lives and living conditions for us all.

Sweden’s Minister for Children, the Elderly and Gender Equality, Åsa Regnér. Photo: Bertil Ericson/TT
Gender equality is also a priority issue in our government’s foreign policy and EU activities. All around the world we see that women have the lowest incomes; that the labour force participation of women with low levels of education is at an unsustainably low level; that child care and elderly care are still not feasible options and in many countries do not offer women a chance of economic independence; that violence against women remains widespread; that the proportion of women in parliaments is astonishingly low. The list goes on.
To date, gender equality has typically been driven by women. However, in recent years, the role of men and boys in advancing gender equality has received increasing attention, both globally and in Sweden. The involvement of men and boys is an important part of the government’s gender equality strategy, as demonstrated by our commitment to the UN's HeForShe campaign. We are also allocating significant resources to efforts to preventing men’s violence against women and children. 
Sweden’s feminist government has attracted a great deal of international attention and we receive many visitors interested in knowing more about what this means in practice. By global standards, we have come a long way in our endeavors, but we also know there are many issues that still need to be tackled.
Åsa Regnér is Sweden’s Minister for Children, the Elderly and Gender Equality.