Gender Mainstreaming



The Team




[ European Commission, DG V ]

© Sept 2001

European Database: Women in Decision-Making

Gender Mainstreaming Strategies in Sweden

Since May 1, 1999 the Amsterdam Treaty with its regulations stipulating gender mainstreaming has been ratified in all Member States. The following exercise is intended as a first state-of-the art assessment to give a two-pronged overview on strategies and actions: a more general picture of gender mainstreaming activities and thematic information relevant to women in decision-making.

1. Action Plans for Gender Mainstreaming

Did national, regional and/or local governments in your country launch a plan aiming to implement equal opportunities for women and men in all fields of policy while at the same time ensuring that persisting gender gaps are being addressed by positive action?

If so, please indicate:

Official name of plan in original language Handlingsplan för integrering av ett jämställdhetsperspektiv
Date when plan was presented and launched. Every year since 1994 the Swedish Government has declared in its annual Statement of Government Policy its political conviction that a gender equality perspective must permeate all aspects of government policy. From that time special measures have been taken to integrate gender perspective into every policy area.
Essential objectives and features The overall aim of gender equality policy implies such things as equal distribution of power and influence, the same chance of achieving financial independence, equal conditions and opportunities with regard to setting up in business, working conditions and development at work, equal access to education, training and for developing personal ambitions, interests, talents, shared responsibility for the home and the children and freedom from gender-related violence. The Swedish Government is already actively supporting the increased employment of women and is taking action to bring about a balanced representation of women and men in all occupations and sectors. They also want to diminish differentials in incomes between women and men. All political and administrative work shall be permeated by gender perspective at central, regional and local levels and in all other areas. The term gender mainstreaming is used to describe this new approach that has caused a shift from special isolated measures to achieve gender equality to broader measures affecting day-to-day political and administrative work. That means:
  • Different conditions and requirements for women and men should be identified.
  • Every question, which concerns individuals, should be examined from the gender perspective.
  • The expected consequences of changes for women and men respectively should be analysed. Regular staff must carry out the development work.
Quantitative goals and timetables To ensure that gender equality perspective informs all policy areas a number of steps have already been taken and various approaches have been developed for further gender equality efforts (see also part II).Regarding representatives on central government boards and committees, the Government is in a position to directly influence developments. The Government's target is a balanced distribution of sexes in the central government boards and committees by the end of the year 2001 at the latest. In 1999 the proportion of women on the boards of government-controlled companies was 28%. The Government's target is an increase in female representation to at least 40% by the year 2003. The Government has also proposed that a mediation institute be set up which will present an annual report to the Government analysing wage formation from a gender perspective. Work on sharpening equal opportunities legislation continues, too. An important part of the proposal concerns a survey of pay differences between genders. At regional level a gender equality expert has been attached to each county administrative board. At local level a project supported by Government funds was already launched in 1995 to develop methods for gender equality works and the results were presented in 1998. To spread the results of the project, training courses for project managers have been launched, too.
Allocated budget The whole budget for gender equality amounts to SEK 32,6 million (year 2001), SEK 33,0 million SEK (year 2002), 33,4 million (year 2003). The office of the Equal Opportunities Ombudsman has had to deal with a heavy work burden in recent years. The number of cases relating to pay discrimination etc. has increased sharply. For the next three years the Ombudsman will receive an extra budget allocation of about SEK 4 million a year.

2. Getting ready for Gender Mainstreaming

Are national, regional and local governments or other key-players currently preparing the ground for implementing gender mainstreaming?

If you see indications in your country, please elaborate.


Awareness raising events and publications by governments, equality infrastructures, women's NGOs, trade unions etc. Statistics segregated by sex
Making gender visible is one of the main purposes. The government decided in 1994 that all individually-based official statistics were to be divided along gender lines unless there were special reasons not to do so. At regional level, most counties have already developed procedures to be able to report data and statistics by gender.
Training targeted at various actors organised by governments, equality infrastructures etc. At central level, measures include method development for gender mainstreaming and training in equal opportunities topics, information and knowledge development via seminars, conferences and the development of various procedures for handling issues, follow-ups and evaluation.
Courses in gender equality
Since autumn 1994 the Government has been providing basic training in gender equality studies for ministers, state secretaries, press secretaries and political advisers, for heads and staff of ministries and other areas of public administration and for heads and secretaries of central government committees and commissions of inquiry. The purpose of the training is to deepen awareness of women's and men's conditions in society, to spread information about gender equality policy objectives, and to increase officials' understanding of their own responsibility in the task of gender mainstreaming.
Method development
In 1997 a method development group for gender equality work was set up in the Government Offices. The group's task is to develop working methods and ways of ensuring that a gender equality perspective reaches all policy areas.
Another working group has been assigned to develop ways of incorporating a gender equality perspective into all parts of the budget process. This group includes representatives of the Finance, Education and Industry, Employment and Communications Ministries and of experts from National Institute for Working Life, Statistics Sweden (SCB) and Linköping University.
Research and study Reports and analyses
All government-appointed investigatory bodies are required to consider gender equality implications in their reports and studies. A special provision to their effect has been introduced into the Committees Ordinance (1998: 1474)
Information and funding of women's NGOs in a perspective of making them key-actors in the process of gender mainstreaming Sweden is at the forefront of the gender mainstreaming process and as such it is already part of the policy of the key-decision-makers. The Swedish Government considers the work of the NGOs to be important and worthy of support. Funding for women's emergency shelters and their national organisations has been stepped up. They are currently receiving an additional SEK 6 million a year. The Government has earmarked SEK 2 million for projects directed at or initiated by young people and related to the issue of violence against women. Men's emergency centres and other organisations which are involved in the work of combat violence against women have received a total of SEK 1,5 million. The National Women's centre has been given SEK 3 million that it may ensure the continuation of its work and spread information concerning what has been learnt in the work process.
Other Administration control and agency feedbackThe Swedish National Audit Office/Riksrevisionsverket (RRV) has been directed to scrutinise how the gender equality aspect is reflected in the Government's administrative control on various national agencies and in their reports back to the Government.

3. Gender mainstreaming targeted explicitly at women in decision-making

Besides getting an overview of the broad-based approaches to gender mainstreaming it is important to track information that is particularly relevant to current and future aims of the WID project. The following points reach beyond women's participation in the political arena.
Tackling gender gaps in decision-making - in both the political arena and in economic and cultural life - as priority in the (already mentioned eventually existing) national action plan for gender mainstreaming One of the goals of government policy on gender equality is a balanced distribution of influence and power between women and men. A level of female representation in decision-making bodies that reflects the proportion of women in the population is a key democratic demand in this respect. Both sexes are to be represented in all areas of society and at all decision-making levels if women and men are to influence developments in society on the same terms. Achieving a balanced distribution of the sexes in decision-making posts in the private and public sector is another important issue. The Government has highlighted the mainstreaming approach in the work with the regional growth agreements. An evaluation has nevertheless shown that there is a need to develop methods of introducing the gender perspective into the counties' growth agreements. The Government has allocated funds to three counties for development of such methods. Thus, due to the many activities in this area as described above, gender gaps seem to be actively being closed.
Vertical desegregation of the labour market (i.e. enhancing women's access to senior management and decision-making levels) as a priority among measures described under pillar 4 of your country's National Action Plan for Employment (NAP)'. Distribution of the sexes in political assemblies
Women today are well represented. The Cabinet consists of 10 women and 10 men. In the "Riksdag", women have 43% of the seats. The national average on county councils is 48% and on municipal councils 41%.
Distribution of the sexes on government boards and committees
The Government's target is a balanced distribution of representatives on central government boards and committees by the end of the year 2001.
Distribution of the sexes on company executives
The Government's target is an increase in female representation on the boards of government-controlled companies to at least 40% by the year 2003.
Strategies and measures targeted at vertical desegregation in the Community Support Frameworks and Operational Programmes for the new Funding Period (2000-2006) of the European Structural Funds² A number of programmes and measures in various fields are either under way or already in place. For the new programme period of 2000-2006, the gender equality criterion has given considerably greater emphasis.
The measures taken so far to enhance female representation on government boards can be divided into 3 groups:
  • stricter internal procedures when the Government makes board appointments,
  • various incentives to boost the proportion of women, and
  • the highlighting of gender-based division through the dissemination of statistics.
The Government has reviewed its executive recruitment policy and developed guidelines in this respect. The National Renewal Fund has started an "Executive Academy" - a development programme for women in executive positions in public administration.
The Government has introduced a new follow-up system for employer policy that includes a requirement for gender-specific statistics. Government agencies are also required to show what has been done to accord women and men the same opportunities for advancement and promotion. A number of seminars have been held jointly with business community since 1998. From autumn 2000, an annual conference on gender equality has been organised.
Gender balance in the Monitoring Committees of the Structural Funds As already mentioned the Government's target is a balanced distribution of representatives on committees by the end of the year 2001.

'NAPs can be found on the Europa Server at the website of the DG Employment & Social Affairs. Search for European Employment Strategy.
²In most Member States these can be obtained from the Ministry for Economic Affairs (ERDF), the Ministry of Labour (ESF) and the Ministry for Agriculture (EAGGF).

to the top