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Sweden's military gets special gender handbook

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Sweden's military gets special gender handbook
Swedish soldiers on Gotland. Photo: Sören Andersson/TT
14:25 CEST+02:00
The Swedish Armed Forces have launched a new handbook with the aim of teaching its employees to use a gender-equal perspective in military operations.

“This is part of broader work on gender questions and equality that comes in different forms. On the one hand it deals with how we handle gender questions in military operations, on the other it also addresses how we look at gender issues in the organization,” Chief of Operations Jan Thörnqvist told The Local.

The Gender Handbook (Handbok gender) was published earlier this month, and consists of three separate sections. The guide starts with theoretical grounding, moves on to a section on implementation then finishes with a number of examples to help readers grasp how the concepts work in practice.

“Taking gender questions into account when planning an operation could be just as important as considering the weather or the geography. All of that can make an operation more effective,” Thörnqvist explained.

“There are many practical examples and scenarios in the book that can be used in an educational environment. We're trying to create a knowledge-base of a balanced gender perspective for operations. That's important, otherwise we could make big military mistakes. The people encountered in an operation could be men, women, or children. If that's clear then situations can be better managed.”

Along with potentially improving operations, the book also hopes to help improve the Armed Forces as an organization.

“The goal is also to have an equal workplace, make people feel better and deliver better results, and making sure men, women and people from different backgrounds get the same conditions and equal chances to develop, which is what a balanced organization does.”

And while Sweden's Armed Forces is doing good work in the area according to Thörnqvist, they are not alone in addressing the issue.

“We're not unique. Armed forces in many other countries have realized this is something that needs to be managed. Operations in Afghanistan, Africa and Iraq have looked at the question, as have Nato. We've come very far compared to some but there's plenty of work left to do, and this book is only part of bigger work.”

Any Swedish speakers keen to take a peak at the handbook can read all 100 pages of it here.  

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