Sweden’s Feminist Political Party Set To Make History With Its Policies

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Here’s some awesome news out of Sweden that feminists would be interested. The European nation’s Feminist Initiative political party won a seat in the European Parliament in May, becoming the first feminist party in history to do so. Feminist Initiative won 5.5 percent of Swedish votes and has polled as high as 4 percent this month ahead of the Sept. 14 election in Sweden.

Now they are hoping to make history again by becoming the first political group to get into a nation’s legislature with a primary goal of abolishing sexism. The party is led by Gudrun Schyman (previously head of the Left Party) and they want an updated definition of gross domestic product to include the unpaid work women do at home. Now that’s some feminism we can get behind! We’re not quite sure how exactly they plan to redefine GDP to include unpaid work, but the fact that a feminist party is paying special attention to stay-at-home moms is a great statement for modern feminism on a larger scale.

Bloomberg reports the party also wants to target higher taxes to bridge the pay gap for women, a six-hour workday and an even split on parental leave.

“Even though Sweden, compared with a lot of other countries, has come far with equality, we’re not at all finished, and in the last few years not a lot has happened,” said Lena Waengnerud, professor at Gothenburg University.

In 2006 Sweden was ranked as the number one gender equal nation on earth, but today it is in fourth place behind Iceland, Finland and Norway according to the World Economic Forum’s Global Gender Gap Report.. It seems Europe is far ahead of many other western nations including the US, which currently only has 18% females in federal government, and certainly nothing close to a feminist party.

A poll from August showed that 47% of Swedes consider themselves which has increased from 33% over the past 4 years. Feminist Initiative party leader Gudrun Schyman says although the country has made strides, it doesn’t mean equality and feminism isn’t something that should be ignored altogether.

“It’s very obvious that there’s a gender contract in society, which in various ways treats women as if they’re worth less.”Statistics show the majority of FI’s supporters are young women who live in big cities.

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Feminist Initiative don’t just have everyday women on their side, they also have a couple of big names to tout the party’s policies publicly. Swedish actress and singer Anjaerika joined the party about a year ago and has been rallying other artists to bring awareness to what the Feminist Initiative are doing.

“I don’t want to live in a patriarchy,” she said in an interview. “I’ve lived with that my whole life, so that’s my normal life, but I have felt for such a long time this injustice, that I’m not being treated as a human being in the same way that men are in both large and small things in life.

But the support doesn’t just stop with the women. Benny Andersson, one of the four members of international pop sensations ABBA is probably the party’s most well-known supporters. Since 2009 the 70s pop star has donated roughly $145,000 to the party, they claim on their website.

In a video posted on the party’s website, Benny urged citizens being a feminist means being conscious of the “structural injustices that exist between the sexes.”

“It then feels very good that there is a party that puts equality of all at the top of the agenda,” he said. “You know who I mean. Vote for them. Don’t waste your vote.”

We talk a lot about the wage gap which sadly does still exist in the US, Australia and Britain (to name just a few countries) and that is also something the Feminist Initiative wants to tackle head on. Sweden’s National Mediation Office calculates women make 5.8 percent less, on average, than their male colleagues, taking profession, education, age and working hours into account.

benny-andersson-ABBA

Party leader Gudrun Schyman burnt 100,000 kronor in bills in 2010 to raise awareness around the fact that women earn less than men.

Both the government and opposition have threatened companies with legislation unless more women make it onto corporate boards, meaning equality is not just something that is important for the Feminist Initiative. Sweden has more women in the labor market than any other European Union country and about 45 percent of elected officials are female, according to government data. Yet women are still outnumbered three-to-one on corporate boards.

Besides redefining GDP, Feminist Initiative wants to impose a financial transactions tax, raise corporate, carbon-dioxide and wealth taxes and increase costs for meat production. It says the measures will in part be funded by less defense spending. Proceeds will pay for better child care, free public transport and higher pay for teachers. The party also plans to raise unemployment and sick-leave benefits. Policies will include making it easier to convict accused rapists and target better rights for gays and transsexuals.

This news comes as a major step forward not just for women in Sweden, but men and women. Don’t let the name fool or deceive you. Feminism is not just restricted to one gender, and for all the accusations flying around lately that feminists don’t believe in equality, but demand special opportunities for women only, perhaps the election of the Feminist Initiative in Sweden will send a clear message to great Europe and hopefully the rest of the world that there are feminists today who are genuinely working toward a better equal society that benefits everyone.


 

 

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