Pressure to start a Swedish gender equality agency
While the minister responsible for gender equality issues, Åsa Regnér, waits for public comments to come back regarding the proposal to create a new agency for gender equality, some complain that the process is taking too long.
It was Sweden's previous government, the center-right Alliance, which commissioned the inquiry into gender equality, and the study's conclusion was that Sweden needs a special agency to handle gender equality issues. The results of the inquiry were presented to the current government this autumn.
Åsa Regnér told Swedish Radio News that the idea to institute a gender equality agency was "extremely interesting", but that the conclusions of the study were being circulated for public comment and that she would wait for those results before going out with the government's standpoint.
Both from within Regnér's own party and from the Greens, who rule in a minority coalition with the Social Democrats, there is pressure to start up a gender equality authority.
The Greens' spokesperson on equality, Annika Hirvonen Falk, said that work towards gender equality needs to jell strategically and that someone needs to be responsible and to follow up on gender equality policy goals. Falk added that nowadays, organization is too diffuse and that no one has a clear, comprehensive responsibility. She believes that efforts towards gender equality aren't being evaluated well enough currently, and that that takes a toll on how the policy is steered.
The Greens also hold that an equality agency would be a very strong tool for a feminist government.
Carina Ohlsson, the chair of the National Federation of Social Democratic Women in Sweden, told Swedish Radio News that an authority would provide a more efficient way for keeping an eye on gender equality issues continuously, versus the government needing to commission inquiry after inquiry.
The government-commissioned study concluded that Sweden's progression towards becoming a gender equal society is moving too slowly, and in certain cases, even backwards.
The Left Party, which helped the minority government get its budget through Parliament, has long called for the creation of a gender equality agency, and Rossana Dinamarca, the equality spokesperson for the Left, feels Sweden should have already instituted one.
However, the conservative Moderates, the Center party, the Christian Democrats and the Sweden Democrats, do not believe another government agency would help lead to more gender equality.
Desirée Pethrus, the Christian Democrats' gender equality spokesperson said that in principle, her party has been opposed to creating more agencies and would rather dismantle some of them, because they feel there is already too much bureaucracy.
However, if the government decides to push for the authority, it will likely get help from the Liberals. Maria Arnholm, who was the minister in charge of gender equality issues when the Alliance was in power, and who originally commissioned the study, sides with Åsa Regnér in calling the suggestion for a new agency "interesting".
"We have a long way to go towards equality in Sweden, and I believe that there should be an idea to have an agency that guards, collects knowledge and leads work towards increased equality," Arnholm said.