Feminism in Sweden
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Feminism in Sweden is a significant social and political influence within Swedish society. Swedish political parties across the political spectrum commit to gender-based policies in their public political manifestos. The Swedish government assesses all policy according to the tenets of gender mainstreaming. Women in Sweden are 45% of the political representatives in the Swedish Parliament. Women make up 43% of representatives in local legislatures as of 2014.
Swedish feminism dates back to the 17th century and was discussed in intellectual circles throughout the 18th century. Since the publication Samtal emellan Argi Skugga och en obekant Fruentimbers Skugga by Margareta Momma in 1738, followed by Hedvig Charlotta Nordenflycht's famous poem Fruntimrens försvar (To the Defense of Women, 1761) debate on gender roles and gender equality has become a mainstream topic.
Women had conditional suffrage during the age of liberty in 1718–1772. With a relatively high level of education, in 1862, unmarried Swedish women were the first worldwide to be granted conditional right to vote in municipal elections. Universal women suffrage followed in 1921. Since then, Sweden has remained a forerunner of gender equality driven by a both intellectual and practical feminist movement.
Today, with its increasing multiculturalism, Swedish society has embraced third-wave feminism. Sweden's Feminist Initiative became the first feminist political party to win a parliamentary mandate in the 2014 European elections, rediscussing feminism from a decisively antiracist perspective that includes the perspectives of people of color.
During the 17th century, questions around gender roles, gender equality and women's rights were raised by individuals such as Sophia Elisabet Brenner and Beata Rosenhane, but these were rare exceptions.
During the 18th century, gender roles, gender equality and reform in women's social and legal status were discussed in public debate and literature. Many anonymous female journalists and writers participated under pseudonyms in temporary periodicals, often in the form of a fictions correspondence, questioning the status of women, only a minority of whom, however, has been identified. Among them were Margareta Momma, Catharina Ahlgren and Anna Maria Rückerschöld. In 1761, Hedvig Charlotta Nordenflycht wrote her famous poem Fruntimrens försvar (To the Defense of Women).
The first civil-society organisation founded by women in Sweden was the charitable society Välgörande fruntimmerssällskapet, which was founded in Stockholm in 1819 by a group of upper-class women under the leadership of Princess Sophie Albertine of Sweden. It's purpose was to support poor women. This was the first time in Sweden women organized to achieve and reform something in society by a public voice. Though the subject may seem non controversial, the act of women organizing to change society was in itself radical. This was to be followed by numerous other charitable women's societies during the 19th century.
In 1839, Carl Jonas Love Almqvist started a long literary debate regarding gender roles through his famous novel Det går an, in which he argued for free love and the right of Cohabitation without the restrictions of marriage and the right for women to experience love without losing their independence.
In 1848, Sophie Sager aroused considerable controversy after reporting a rape attempt and going on to win her case. She became the perhaps first woman in Sweden to make public speeches in favor of feminism, which made her famous but also ridiculed as a feminist figure. Hers was, however, an isolated attempt, and did not start any organized movement.
In 1855, Josefina Deland founded the Svenska lärarinnors pensionsförening (The Society for Retired Female Teachers) to provide for retired female teachers and governesses. Being an educator was at the time one of the few professions available for an educated woman to support herself, which was at the time an important question for women. This was arguably the first time women organized themselves to deal with a wider women's issue in Sweden.
In 1856, Fredrika Bremer published the novel Hertha, which aroused great controversy and created the "Hertha Debate". The two foremost questions were the abolition of coverture for unmarried women, and for the state to provide women an equivalent to a university. Social change arrived: in 1858, a reform granted unmarried women the right to apply for legal majority by a simple procedure, and in 1861, Högre lärarinneseminariet was founded as a "Women's University". In 1859, the first women's magazine in Sweden and the Nordic countries, the Tidskrift för hemmet, was founded by Sophie Adlersparre and Rosalie Olivecrona. This has been referred to as the starting point of a women's movement in Sweden.
The organized women's movement begun in 1873, when the Married Woman's Property Rights Association was co-founded by Anna Hierta-Retzius and Ellen Anckarsvärd. The prime task of the organization was to fully abolish coverture. In 1884, Fredrika-Bremer-Förbundet was founded by Sophie Adlersparre to work for the improvement in women's rights. The second half of the 19th century saw the creation of several women's rights organisations and a considerable activity within both active organisations as well as intellectual debate.
The 1880s saw the so-called Sedlighetsdebatten (Virtue Debate), where gender roles were discussed in literary debates in regards to sexual double standards, as opposed to sexual equality. One of the organs for this was the Svenska Federationen, who worked to put a stop to the regulation system of prostitutes and questioned the contemporaneous sexual double standards by which this system was justified.
20th century to present day
In 1902 the National Association for Women's Suffrage was founded. Women's suffrage was introduced in 1921, with women being formally awarded equal rights as male citizens. From 1921 to 1954, Kvinnliga medborgarskolan vid Fogelstad (The Fogelstad Citizen School for Women) held courses to educate women about their new rights as full and equal citizens and encouraged them to use their new rights.
During the Interwar period, various women's magazines and organizations existed for women of all political views and classes. Women also organized in the women's wings of the political parties, such as the Social Democratic Women in Sweden and the Moderate Women, through which they channeled their demands, entering the political life.
During the 1960s- and 1970s, Sweden experienced a new wave of feminism: in 1968, the Group 8 was founded and raised a number of issues within gender equality. In 1973, Women of Labour was split from Group 8. Popular culture included feminism values, such as Röda bönor.
In 1997 Swedish Women's Lobby was founded by the Government of Sweden. During the 2000s, it led to feminist campaigns such as Bara Bröst and Dirty Diaries, as well as anti-feminist reactions such as The Gender War.
Women policy makers
Women in Sweden are 45% of the political representatives in the Swedish Parliament. Women make up 43% of representatives in local legislatures. Women are 52% of the Ministers in the Swedish Government (November 2015).
While there are no legal quotas for female candidates in Sweden, most parties have internal policies to promote the participation of women. Some political parties have voluntary quotas. Explanations for levels of women’s political participation include that women’s organisations and community activists have been instrumental in pressing for greater female representation.
The Swedish government assesses all policy according to the tenets of gender mainstreaming. Gender mainstreaming is used in government offices, central government agencies, regional governments, municipalities and local government. This has been the case since 1994, with gender mainstreaming meaning that gender, in a stakeholder sense as members of society, is taken into account when government considers new policies.
The law is in accordance with Sweden's gender equality programme. Theoretically the gender of the seller and buyer are immaterial under the law, that is it is gender neutral. However, the law is politically constructed, discussed and enforced in the context of women selling sex to men. The Swedish Government believes that women selling sexual services to men constitutes a form of violence against women which should be eliminated by reducing demand. Demand for women's sexual services is constructed as a form of male dominance over women, and as a practice which maintains patriarchal hegemony. (see Feminist views on prostitution).
A policy position of the Swedish Social Democratic Party is to criminalise the purchase of sexual services bought overseas by Swedish citizens.
Domestic violence law
Incidents of domestic violence and abuse are assessed cumulatively in Sweden, so that each incidence is taken into account. There is specific reference to abuse by a man against a woman with whom he is in a close personal relationship, who can then be liable to a charge of "gross violation of a woman’s integrity".
Gender and policy
Sweden has a Minister for Gender Equality. The Swedish government allocates money specifically to gender equality in the annual budget. In 2014 the Swedish government allocated 252 million Krona for gender equality. Swedish political parties across the political spectrum commit to gender-based policies in their public political manifestos.
- "The Swedish General Election 2014 and the Representation of Women", Northern Ireland Assembly, Research and Information Service Research Paper, 1 October 2014, p. 1.
- Viola Gad, "Feminism Comes to the Forefront of Swedish Politics", Time Magazine, 12 September 2014.
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- Sadaf Ahsan, "How Sweden is trying to turn every 16-year-old into a feminist", National Post, 7 December 2015.
- Jakob Christensson (in Swedish): Signums svenska kulturhistoria. Gustavianska tiden (English: Swedish culture history by signum. The Gustavian age) (2007).
- Kyle, Gunhild; Krusenstjerna, Eva von (1993). Kvinnoprofiler. Panorama (Natur och kultur), 99-0913791-7. Stockholm: Natur och kultur.
- Chief editor: Nils Bohman, Svenska män och kvinnor. 2, C-F (Swedish Men and Women. 2, C-F) dictionary (1944) (in Swedish)
- "Here’s What Happens When You Put More Women in Government", Time Magazine, Charlotte Alter, 5 November 2015.
- "Sweden aims for higher gender equality despite impressive record", Today's Zaman, 19 February 2013.
- "The Swedish General Election 2014 and the Representation of Women", Northern Ireland Assembly, Research and Information Service Research Paper, 1 October 2014, p. 8.
- Ministry of Integration and Gender Equality
- "Sweden Treating Prostitution as Violence Against Women". Sisyphe.org. 20 December 2004. Retrieved 31 December 2009.
- Casciani, Dominic (16 July 2004). "Prostitution: International answers". BBC News. Retrieved 19 June 2007.
- "The Social Democrats, Our policies A-Z", accessed January 2016.
- "Fixing Sweden’s schools", The Economist, 2 November 2013.
- "Violation of peace and integrity – Chapter 4, Section 4a of the Swedish Penal Code", European Crime Prevention Network.
- "The Swedish General Election 2014 and the Representation of Women", Northern Ireland Assembly, Research and Information Service Research Paper, 1 October 2014, p. 10.