A new national structure for gender equality policy
The Swedish gender equality commission proposes new aims and a new national agency for gender equality policy. Calls for more long-term organisation of the national gender equality work have been heard for a long time.
The Swedish gender equality commission recently presented its final report to the government. The document largely concerns the organisation of the country’s gender mainstreaming efforts.
Like several other actors, most recently the Swedish National Audit Office with a report presented last summer, Cecilia Schelin Seidegård, governor of Gotland and head of the commission, believes that the implementation of national gender equality policy lacks direction, a long-term strategy and proper follow-up. The commission proposes that a new government agency tasked to coordinate and support the country’s gender equality policy be established. The agency would also provide expert advice to the government.
Lillemor Dahlgren from the Swedish Secretariat for Gender Research is in charge of includegender.org and the Gender Mainstreaming in Government Agencies (GMGA) project. She welcomes a more comprehensive approach.
‘It’s important that temporary initiatives and projects can be made permanent and that there’s an agency for support and follow-up of all the work that’s being done.’
The commission’s suggestions are not without challenges.
‘Increased demands on public organisations will lead to an increased need for support. One thing that needs to be figured out is how high-quality support can be provided with the proposed resources. Other challenges include how the proximity to research can be made more clear, as well as the consequences of transferring programmes and projects from their present organisations to the new agency,’ says Lillemor Dahlgren.
The commission proposes that the responsibility for includegender.org and the GMGA project be moved from the Swedish Secretariat for Gender Research to the new agency. Other tasks that would be transferred from other agencies to the new one include the coordination of the work against honour-related violence, prostitution and human trafficking as well as the distribution of government funding to gender equality projects.
The commission also proposes that the four national gender equality objectives, adopted by the Swedish Parliament in 2006, be replaced with five partly new ones: 1) equal distribution of power and influence, 2) economic equality between the genders, 3) gender equality in education, 4) men’s violence against women must end and 5) gender equality in health and the provision of care services.
Kerstin Alnebratt, director of the Swedish Secretariat for Gender Research and expert member of the commission, welcomes the stronger focus on health and education. However, she is critical of the commission’s overall work with the new aims.
‘The analysis should have been more thorough. I think the objectives may lead us in the wrong direction. There is a risk that they end up hiding the fact that systematic gender equality work requires knowledge about a number of other power structures. An intersectional perspective, if you will.’
One intention with the new objectives is to make them useful in the work with gender mainstreaming as a strategy.
‘Today we have general objectives without problem analysis, which makes them difficult to relate to for government agencies and others,’ says Kerstin Alnebratt.