The feminist struggle
Our ideological principles
Class struggle, fight for women’s rights and anti-racism
Class-conscious feminism is a must for building a just and democratic world. S-kvinnor’s feminism is about challenging, questioning and transforming a society for centuries governed and dominated by men.
S-kvinnor places the class struggle, the fight for women’s rights and the fight against racism side-by-side, but we also perceive other power structures and forms of discrimination. Women are not a homogeneous group and are thus affected differently by the patriarchal order of things. It is important to see different power structures and understand how they act together.
S-kvinnor’s goal is a gender-equal and equitable society where all live in freedom and have equal control over their lives and the joint development of society.
Our society has essentially a patriarchal structure in which men as a group are set above women as a group. Men have greater economic, political, social and cultural power than women. This is expressed partly in the fact that men earn more money and take less responsibility in the home. Men’s violence against women, oppression and discrimination are social problems that restrict all women.
The concept of gender stresses that women and men do not form their whole identities themselves, but in relation to the society to which we all belong. Expectations differ between girls’ and boys’ and women’s and men’s behavior and expression. Only when we see and understand the structures that distinguish and evaluate the sexes differently can we combat these structures. Everybody must be able to choose their own approach to life, their opinions, expressions and sexual disposition.
We live in a globalized capitalist world where power and resources are concentrated to few individuals. The positive development of reduced world poverty must be shared by all and used for improving everyone’s situation. The eight richest men in the world today own more than what the poorest half of the world’s population own together. Development is pointing to growing gaps and reduced equality, both in Sweden and throughout the world.
This brutal injustice has many destructive effects. Unequal societies exhibit a lack of trust between people, and this limits everyone’s freedom and security.
Especially damaging are the class differences for the least empowered groups. The ultimate consequences of the class society are that people with less education and poorer economies suffer more ill health and live shorter lives. For this reason it is crucial that economic resources and power be distributed equally and equitably.
The feminist struggle
Popular movements and adult education are important tools in the feminist struggle. To gain power, the more we are, the stronger. S-kvinnor organizes women throughout Sweden – locally, regionally and nationally. We are developing policies and influencing social change to realize our vision of a gender-equal world.
The feminist social structure
Housing – a social right
Building is a tool for social change. Sweden has lacked a clear policy for social change during the past few decades and this has led to a segregated society. Back in the 1970s S-kvinnor produced ”Kvarteret framtiden” (The District of the Future) – a political program for a society based on everybody’s right to an equal life. Now that we are creating the feminist social structure of the future, these ideas constitute important starting points.
The transformation of social structures requires a holistic approach and responsible policies. The aim is to create attractive, functional and socially integrated residential areas with a mix of housing to suit people’s needs throughout life. For this reason builders and property companies must exercise great social responsibility. When S-kvinnor wrote Kvarteret Framtiden a good living environment was one of the central ideas. There is reason to remember this when Sweden is once again entering a period of vigorous new building – we must not only increase the quantity of housing units but also to do this with good quality.
Everybody is entitled to a home of good quality at a reasonable cost, so public utilities are needed in all our municipalities. The selling-off of public utilities must be stopped. Miljonprogrammet, the public housing program of the 1960s, must be modernized without burdening those who live there today with large rent increases. The building of more rental homes must be promoted, partly through neutral taxation among types of housing. Building prerequisites throughout the country must also be re-examined. S-kvinnor must seek reforms that balance out the various forms of accommodation letting.
Women, generally lower paid than men, are more dependent on rented accommodation at a reasonable cost.
Security and availability
Security is a decisive factor in feminist social planning. The feeling of insecurity is stronger when men assume control of public affairs. A fierce macho-culture limits everyone’s freedom. Girls and women are more frightened than boys and men of assault of a sexual nature, or objectification. Many elect not to go out alone, particularly in the evening.
Security is more than a physical environment. The e-hatred that greatly afflicts women spreads anxiety and fear, limiting people’s urge to free expression. This is unacceptable. We must never permit fear to limit girls’ and women’s living space. Men need to take greater responsibility for the climate in the public domain.
Outdoor surroundings must be well lighted and attractive, planned to create security and ease of access. Creating security requires equality since people are not then set against each other.
Town and country – all of Sweden must live
High unemployment and poor faith in the future lead to social problems and worry. Special efforts are needed to create functioning living conditions both for our towns and for our country areas.
The impoverishment of the countryside must be stopped. Basic availability of social services such as chemists, post offices, banks, cash management, telephones and IT must be guaranteed throughout the country. Support for rural development must favor local communities. Free movement for all is a precondition for a living landscape, so investment in good infrastructure, social services, cultural amenities and sustainable local transport are imperative.
Country-wide class differences are even more visible in our cities, which attract the strongest and the weakest groups. The concentration of high unemployment, poor school results and cramped living conditions threatens to strengthen patriarchal structures in many suburbs. Reactionary forces limiting women’s freedom must be combatted and feminist forces strengthened. Many of Sweden’s closely-built-up areas suffer housing shortages, major in the big cities. The building programs that are necessary afford good opportunities to improve existing dwellings, the environment and social conditions in the city districts most in need of this. Everybody is entitled to a physically, ecologically and socially sustainable environment.
An open society enables people to meet outside their original acquaintanceship. Gathering different functions in one locality, for example assembly premises, libraries, swimming baths and leisure centers, can lead to exciting meetings and promote local democracy. Adult education is also an important part of democracy. Associations and popular movements must continue to receive space and opportunities to grow, in towns as well as in the countryside. It is vital that we do not build popular associations out of existence as our towns grow, while at the same time such associations in rural areas may need extra support.
Welfare and opportunities
A feminist society must rely on the availability of well-functioning welfare; but robust joint welfare is not the final goal, it is a tool for increasing the reach of democracy. It is a must for everyone’s freedom. When welfare is not enough, it is most often the women who must compensate for shortfalls with cuts in their working time. The responsibilities many women have today for their dependents is leading to salary cuts, less free time, poorer pensions, increased stress and ill-health, while society is losing hours worked and tax revenues.
Pre-school, school and leisure activity are important meeting places for all children. It is teaching activities that must be infused with gender-conscious and norm-critical pedagogics. Freedom to choose schools is contributing to segregation and needs to be countered by a municipal right to veto the establishment of independent schools.
Pre-schools must be available locally, staffed and with groups dimensioned to give the children security and opportunities to develop. A statutory right to child care even in the evenings, nighttime and weekends must be a matter of course. General pre-school must start from age two years. For pre-schools to be available to all, they must become free of charge, as must after-school recreational facilities. School must be equal for all, with a focus upon knowledge. Child education must be grounded in democratic and secular values. S-kvinnor are opposed to religious independent schools and pre-schools. School must be compensatory. Girls and boys must have the same opportunities to achieve good results, feel secure and well. There must be zero-tolerance of any forms of abuse.
Sweden must set an example for other countries in the care of and attention to the elderly. Old people’s rights must be consolidated with a special geriatric care act. Elderly care must have competent staff and quality, a source of security for both the residents and their relatives. Women must not be compelled to compensate for poor home help or inadequate staffing in old people’s homes. Care by relatives must never be reduced to an issue for women. Time spent with children or other relatives must be elective. More research is needed into how far access to old people’s care is gender-equitable, that is, whether women have the same access to elderly care as men.
A feminist social structure must be based on jointly-owned and financed welfare of good quality. The public sector must not be governed by market forces. When welfare becomes privatized, schools and care risk becoming inequitable. Private operations must be controlled and required to reinvest surpluses.
- Gender-equality must be a factor in all social planning.
- Tax policy to be revised to achieve neutrality between the different residential forms.
- Create secure and well-lit residential areas.
- Investment in social service and infrastructure must go hand-in-hand with housing construction throughout the country.
- Invest in functioning public transport and broadband for the whole country.
- Prevent the selling-off of public utilities and support the building and retention of more rental homes.
- Renovate miljonprogrammen, the public-housing programs.
- Invest in welfare to enable women to take part in working life on the same terms as men.
- Entitle local government to veto the establishment of independent schools.
- Pre-schools and schools must be based on democratic and secular values and follow gender-conscious and norm-critical teaching approaches.
- Statutory entitlement to child care, including evenings, nighttime and weekends.
- A special care-of-the-elderly act to be introduced to support old people’s rights.
- Profit must not govern welfare: public funds must be employed.
Economy and sustainability
Sustainability and growth
Social progress must be sustainable over the long term, hence democracy must set limits to market forces. The nation economy must be an instrument in the service of the people, observing ecological, economic and social aspects of sustainability. Sad to say we only consider the economic aspects today when we are to judge how fit our society is. Sweden’s wellbeing is measured by growth in the gross national product (GNP); but a positive economic development does not automatically mean that people or the environment are better off. Economic-political decisions and social planning thus need to take account of all three aspects of sustainability.
Greater attention must be paid to the Eco cycle. The economy needs to become more cyclic. A start has been made but more tools must be developed to encourage re-use, recycling and the production of energy from waste products.
Shared economy, meaning that we own or use things together, is a way of using existing resources better. Sharing is nothing new, but development in digitalization is opening the door for many new share services. Cyclic and shared economy need to be developed and strengthened. This must not be brought about by undermining employer responsibility and tax avoidance.
Sweden has come part of the way towards a fossil-free society. Major parts of fossil fuels used for heating have been phased out, but in the transport sector much remains to be done. Rail traffic and the whole of public transport need to be developed and refurbished and the state must assume overall responsibility for rail traffic. Nuclear power is both environmentally dangerous and a security risk that must be removed. Children and adults alike are surrounded by noxious substance in their everyday lives, both in the home and at work. All pre-schools must become chemical-smart.
Production and consumption
Production is central to the economy and social progress; but an equally important part is human and natural capital.
Swedish environmental policy has prompted important changes, made production more efficient and reduced the Swedish release of, for example, greenhouse gases. At the same time the effects that Swedish consumption answers for are on the increase since a large proportion of the goods we buy are produced abroad. We must therefore actively seek informed consumption.
We are using up more natural resources than we can afford, and are creating irrevocable changes in the Earth’s climate. Sweden is in many ways a model in environmental matters, but this gives us no cause to relax. Much work remains to adapt to a sustainable society and preserve biological diversity both locally and globally. Climate and environmental problems know no national frontiers. International trade agreements must be designed to take account of people, the environment, democracy and women’s and girls’ rights.
A tax policy for social progress
While welfare is on the increase for most people, social exposure has become concentrated to certain areas. Sweden has seen the most rapidly growing gaps within the Organization for Economic and Social Development (OECD) in recent years. This is a long-term negative development: class differences in Sweden have been growing for decades.
Few countries spend such a large portion of GNP on joint welfare services as Sweden does. The basis is naturally political. To retain and develop a welfare system of good quality and to eliminate class differences, a sustainable tax system is required. Our economic policy must make large and necessary social investments possible.
The tax system was reformed in the 1990s but since then extensive departures from basic principles of neutrality, predictability and uniformity have been made. For example, earned income is taxed lower than pension, sickness, activity and unemployment benefits and parent allowances. This is an injustice that must be corrected.
Our tax policy must regain a clearer distribution-policy profile to reduce economic disparities and support the welfare system: this is the way to level out class differences. A policy of fair income distribution must take into account existing unfair tax differences and reduce them, a precondition for an equitable Sweden.
Activities that jeopardize the climate must be taxed harder. In some areas, raised environmental or consumption taxes may be exchanged for lowered taxes on work.
Tax evasion and tax avoidance are ever-present issues. A continual debate on tax morality is needed.
- The national economy must observe ecological, economic and social aspects.
- Sweden must become the world’s first fossil-free welfare country.
- Sweden must phase out nuclear power.
- Sweden must combat the impoverishment of biological diversity.
- A cyclic and shared economy must be developed and strengthened.
- Sweden must become a model country regarding non-toxic environments.
- A target must be introduced to reduce consumption-based releases of greenhouse gases.
- Rail and public transport must be renewed and expanded.
- The tax system must regain its clear distribution-political profile.
- Climate- and environmentally harmful activities must be taxed more severely.
- Pension, sickness and activity benefits, unemployment benefits and parental allowances must be taxed in the same way as taxes on work.
- Public procurement must take account of people and the environment.
- Consumer protection must be increased.
A gender-equal labor market
A distributed labor market
The Swedish labor market is not yet equitable or gender-equal. There are major differences between women and men regarding salaries, conditions and opportunities to influence one’s work situation. Throughout society man is the norm, and working life is no exception.
Even at school, gender roles break through. Norms for what is male and what is female govern what programs and job categories are chosen by girls and by boys. A gender-segregated labor market confirms sex roles and stereotype notions of what is feminine and what masculine. Women born outside Europe have higher unemployment than other groups. This increases segregation. Equitable and gender-equal workplaces are a gain for the whole of society.
Working life and family life
To reach the goal of full employment and economic independence for women, women’s participation in working life needs to be increased. Sustainable working life, in balance among family, working life and free time is a precondition for this.
In the past few years care of relatives has increased appreciably, and it is chiefly women who take responsibility for care within close relationships. There is a link to a reduced public sector, and for this reason a review is needed to extend this.
We live in a gendered power structure where women bear the main burden of unpaid work. Inequitable family circumstances affect the labor market. Regarding parental leave, women take about 75 percent of parental days; during the first two years of a child’s life as much as 90 percent. That women are more absent from work means that all women, including those without children, are viewed as labor risks.
Sweden’s most recent major labor market reform was when the 40-hour week was introduced in 1973. This was a result of the labor movement’s struggle for redistribution and liberation. That was 44 years ago. S-kvinnor considers it high time to change the overall norm and is therefore working to introduce a 30-hour week as the norm. This is an important reform for better health, reduced sick-leave rates, lower unemployment and more free time. It is moreover an important reform in terms of gender equality.
A completely individualized parental insurance strengthens women’s role on the labor market, men’s role as fathers and children’s right to parents. This is a precondition for gender-equal family life and working life.
Women’s working conditions
Many problems on today’s labor market are linked clearly to women’s work situation. Women have more insecure employment conditions, irregular working hours, split shifts, part-time contracts and work-related ill-health.
Full-time as the norm must apply to the whole labor market. General temporary employment as a labor form, and split shifts, must be abolished.
Employers must set a higher priority on work-environmental issues. Women’s sick-leave rates are rising alarmingly, mainly through mental ill-health brought on by increasing stress and poor work environment. In occupations where women predominate it is important to develop coworkers’ empowerment, right to in-service training and rehabilitation where required.
Together with the labor market partners, S-kvinnor wishes to develop labor-environment work and counter discrimination. Directed efforts are needed to help women with difficulties in entering the labor market. All must have access to lifelong learning. The possibility to update, validate and supplement one’s education must therefore be improved in all sectors.
To achieve a gender-equal labor market we must also have labor-equal representation in leading positions in both the public sector and the private sector. The whole salary and half the power must become reality throughout the labor market.
The gender-unequal labor market results in women having appreciably lower incomes throughout life than men do. This also affects women’s pensions, many women today receiving only the minimum guaranteed pension. Many women today are living below the EU poverty-line. The pension system needs to be overhauled to achieve gender-equal pensions.
Welfare as workplace
A growing and ageing population enlarges welfare’s undertaking while at the same time competition for people of working age is growing. To manage this great recruitment challenge, welfare occupations and work places need to be attractive.
Where municipalities and county councils must rely on manning companies to manage their activities, there are consequences for patient security, quality and economy, while major staff turnover affects the work environment negatively.
Our public sector, which is governed democratically, must be a model of gender-equal salaries, working conditions, work environment, in-service training and career opportunities. When this is so, good conditions are created both for men and for women to select welfare organizations as their workplace.
Women in leading positions
The prospects for attaining a leading position differ in different sections of the public sector. For example, women in leading positions are generally responsible for many employees. Conditions must be gender-equal and the organizational preconditions for good leadership must be developed.
In both the public and the private sectors more women must reach leading position. Not least on company boards, women’s representation must be increased.
- Abolish irrelevant salary differences between women and men.
- Full-time as the norm must be a statutory right.
- Abolish general temporary employment as a form of appointment and abolish split shifts.
- Parental insurance must become individualized by 2020 at the latest.
- Actively examine and promote the issue of a shortened full-time norm.
- More stringent requirements on employers for a good working environment.
- Genus knowledge must be included in work environment regulations.
- Legislate on quotas on company boards.
- Encourage school pupils to choose programs that will break down the gender-divisions in the labor market.
- A national action plan to be produced for women who have long been outside the labor market.
- Good working conditions, work environment, equitable salaries and in-service training and rehabilitation must be offered in all sectors. The public sector must lead with a good example.
- Give women in leading positions the right conditions to develop good leadership.
- The whole pension system must be overhauled.
Gender-equality in health
In the health services it is particularly clear that men represent the norm. Women’s health and diseases are given lower priority and poorer economic conditions than men’s are. Women have poorer accessibility to care and rehabilitation in many areas. This injustice has been noted increasingly in recent years but much remains to be done.
Until fairly recently it was believed, for example, that women were not afflicted by heart and lung diseases so much as men. This proved to be wrong. This not detected earlier because the research was based on the male anatomy.
Elderly people suffering from depression or anxiety constitute a forgotten group in care, even though mental ill-health among those over 65 is as common as dementia. Dementia illnesses may initially be confused with other mental illnesses and vice-versa. The proportion of elderly people with depression is judged to be a public health problem. Twenty-seven percent of women aged 65–79 suffer anxiety, uneasiness or nervousness.
There are still areas where research into women’s health is neglected. There are still problems and diseases linked with women’s sexual and reproductive health, such as endometriosis, incontinence vestibulitis and birth injury. Strain injuries and stress in occupations involving person-to-person contact are increasing as a cause of women’s ill-health. Many women testify that their problems are not taken seriously in the health services. This attitude must be resisted.
We are facing a childbirth crisis in Sweden, with full delivery rooms where the midwives kneel to manage their work. In some areas women cannot obtain a place at the nearest hospital but are compelled to travel to other towns, or even abroad, to give birth. The right to a safe delivery must become a matter of course in Sweden.
To be able to analyze more clearly the difference in care between women and men, health care statistics must be reported by sex; and research on women’s diseases must get more resources. Care-oriented programs also need a clearer genus perspective in teaching.
S-kvinnor must strive to increase the national insurance office allowance for employees’ and job applicants’ care of close relatives, so that it allows more than one person to apply at the same time.
A new sexual revolution
The norms for gender and sexual disposition have changed, not least in that a critical perspective on the hetero norm has developed. Many have a more permissive attitude to sex and have several sexual contacts. The breakthrough of the internet and social media has brought new meeting places and information sites for love and sexuality. Sexual relations have been partly disassociated from love relationships, pregnancy and childbearing.
Notions persist that sexuality and sex drive depend on gender. This affects values and attitudes regarding sex. In fact, sexuality is individual and varies equally within and between groups of women and men. Women have long been brought up to a passive sexual role based on men’s needs, while men have been brought up to an active role. Much indicates that this notion is undergoing a change and that young girls and boys today are having sex more on equal terms. This is good, but at the same time there is much to do for women to be able to affirm their sexuality. A new sexual revolution is needed. Women’s right to their own bodies must also be the right to their own inclinations, throughout life.
Sexual health is public health
Even though we know how important our sexuality is for our wellbeing, issues of sexual health seldom have high priority in public-health policy. There is insufficient knowledge of sexual health in the population. No major sexual survey has been undertaken since the 1990s, though a fairly small survey from 2013 showed that sexual health is linked to class, gender and age. The survey notes among other things that Swedes are having less sex than ever before and that sexual desire has declined. The cause is often tiredness and stress.
National follow-up of sexuality and reproductive health today is focusing on unprotected sex, abortion, and sexual violence and coercion. There is a dearth of follow-up focusing more on more health-promoting areas, and also on knowledge of sexuality and satisfactory sex life.
Sexuality needs to become a self-evident, integrated part of public health.
Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender (LGBT) people as a group have poorer mental health. For example, trans people run a considerably higher risk of ill-health and suicide. The special vulnerability of LGBT people also needs higher priority in public health through directed measures.
Sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR)
Sexual and reproductive ill-health is currently the commonest health problem among women world-wide. A complicated pregnancy, delivery, abortion and injurious customs such as female circumcision can involve life-threatening danger. The right to maternity care, care during delivery, contraceptives, care and education to prevent sexual ill-health, is vital.
The right to free abortion is decisive for the ability to decide for oneself and about one’s own body. Threats to free abortion are creeping ever nearer. The anti-abortionists’ strategy with frightening pictures and slogans has been supplemented with a more insidious juridical struggle to undermine abortion law. S-kvinnor stand for the right to abortion both nationally and internationally. Women should be cared for by professional staff who can disregard their own value judgements.
S- kvinnor’s demands:
- Earmarked resources for more research into and knowledge of women’s health and diseases.
- Free screening programs for gynecological smear tests all over the country.
- Ensure gender-equal care through better statistics broken down by gender, plus a clearer gender perspective in care-oriented training courses.
- Affirm girls’ and women’s sexuality and counter old norms and sexism.
- Norm-critical sex- and cohabitation teaching to be developed and given by teachers trained in the subject.
- Youth clinics must be free and reach everyone.
- Sexuality to be included in national public health surveys.
- Special initiatives to uphold the rights of LGBT people.
- SRHR issues to receive more weight in public health policy.
- Safeguard the right to free abortion, nationally and internationally.
- Ensure access to maternity care and minimize, diagnose and treat the number of birth injuries, and improve postnatal care.
- More research into, and knowledge of, older women’s mental ill-health to prevent depression.
Exploitation of the female body
Exploitation of the female body can be physical such as rape, trafficking, prostitution and humiliating pornography; or mental such as objectification and ideals that are both unattainable and a danger to health.
Objectification and exploitation
In a rapidly-developing, globalized communications society we are facing new challenges all the time. The digital landscape allows information to reach more people, including more young people, more rapidly than before. The internet and social media have created new patterns and avenues for exploiting women’s bodies. These are normalizing objectification, hate, threat and violence. Legislation must keep up with this development.
The Swedish Marketing Practices Act does not cover manipulation of images of the human body and most therefore be amended. Retouched and manipulated images create unattainable and injurious ideals. This affects women’s self-image and how they value their body. It can lead to increased fixation on appearance, eating disorders, unhealthy dietary and training habits. An example of laws introduced in other countries to counter unhealthy body ideals is the prohibition of the use of models with too low BMI.
When the ultimate consequences of a gender-unequal society not only make themselves felt but are allowed a place in our society, we must react. We need legislation against sexist advertising, marketing and the objectification of women on TV and in films.
Pornography and human trafficking
The global trade in women’s and children’s bodies is today a multi-milliard industry, appearing not only in prostitution but also in pornography. Research over several decades shows major damage due to commercial pornography. Both the porn industry and sex trafficking concern power relationships and are often linked to organized criminality.
That the female body is saleable is confirmed continuously through pornography. The porn industry is heavily marked by the power structure that places men above, and belittles, women. The present so-called “mainstream-pornography” almost always includes violence and not infrequently elements resembling torture, where women are exposed to painful, humiliating and violent sexual acts. This type of pornographic film must not exist.
The development of digital communication permits pornography to reach increasingly young groups. The average age at which children are viewing violent porn for the first time is now 11 years. An enquiry into the injurious effects of porn is needed.
No to sex purchase
S-kvinnor was a driving force in the introduction of the Swedish sex purchase law, which criminalizes a person who purchases sex but not one who sells. The law is important in preventing and counteracting prostitution and human trafficking. We know that the industry would be considerably more widespread without a sex purchase law. This becomes evident in comparison with countries that have legalized sex purchase, where major brothel complexes are growing up without control of the black sex commerce. The sex purchase act also has a normalizing effect – it shows that Sweden does not accept trading in the human body.
Knowledge of prostitution is growing in our society but cooperation between various instances, for example the police, social services and the health services, needs to improve. All those who wish to leave prostitution must get the support and help they need. Today the penalty for sex purchase is fines or a year’s imprisonment, but sex purchase should always lead to deprivation of liberty. Very few people are being prosecuted for sex purchase: this crime must be given a higher priority, and it requires more resources.
When Swedish citizens purchase sexual services abroad the sex purchase law does not apply. For this to be possible it is necessary that the crime be excepted from double criminal responsibility, that is, that the crime becomes equally illegal abroad and in Sweden. Exceptions from double criminality apply to a number of other serious sexual crimes and should also apply to sex purchase.
Zero tolerance must apply to all forms of sexual harassment. We must never accept or normalize that girls’ and women’s life spaces are limited because others assume the right to help themselves to their bodies, either in the private or the public sphere.
For a sexual act to be defined as rape it is currently required that the perpetrator uses threats, violence; or exploits a person in a helpless condition; but there has been a major review of the sexual crimes legislation. It shows that many victims did not resist. It has been established that this is a common protective behavior to avoid further injury, and has been misinterpreted as consent. S-kvinnor supports the proposal that sex must always be based on consent and that a necessary condition of gross negligence must be introduced in the law.
S-kvinnor also sees the importance of prioritizing and respecting the victims throughout the whole care chain and legal process, and of giving her the right support. Giving all who report a rapist a plaintiff’s representative is a first step. Knowledge of sexual crimes needs to be expanded throughout the whole judicial system.
Men’s violence against women
According to the National Centre for Knowledge on Men’s Violence Against Women (NCK) more than one woman in ten in Sweden has been subjected to violence in a close relationship. Every year around 15 women are murdered by a man in a close relationship. The murder is almost always preceded by threats and violence which was not stopped. Inequitable salaries and pensions, together with today’s housing situation, are contributing to women’s difficulties in leaving unhealthy relationships if they are dependent on their husbands.
Men’s violence against women is not only a problem for women, it is a societal problem. Violence must be prevented and the victims protected. Work with values and masculinity norms is exceedingly important and must penetrate the whole of society, in particular schools and athletics movements.
Our women’s refuges state that they are obliged to refuse women help owing to lack of space. There are great differences between how the municipalities prioritize action against men’s violence against women. The municipalities must undertake responsibility and have a clear plan of action to combat such violence. A long-term scheme for financing girls’ and women’s refuges must be ensured, in accordance with the national strategy for preventing and combating men’s violence against women. But where our municipalities do not accept their full responsibility, the government should, during a transitional period, share the financing of these refuges. This is so that the women’s refuges may be able to build up their operations slowly and not fail because of local official ignorance. At the same time the legislation for municipal responsibility regarding men’s violence against women, and financing this responsibility, should be further tightened up.
Elderly women constitute a group often forgotten when one talks about men’s violence against women; but violence is no respecter of pensions. On the other hand there is a risk that their social lives may be restricted, possibly increasing their vulnerability. Therefore, it is important to have an elderly perspective on these issues.
Crimes of honor represent a challenge for the whole of society. Parallel societies based on patriarchal structures must always be opposed. Knowledge of oppression in the name of honor and the special character of honor violence must be disseminated. This is threats and violence perpetrated and/or sanctioned by several persons in a close relation to the threatened person. All instances, school, social services, care services and the judicial system must have the right tools for identifying, meeting and opposing honor crime. Honor crime must be introduced as an aggravating circumstance to highlight the serious nature of the crime.
Child- and forced marriage is forbidden in Sweden. The increased protection introduced in 2014 against child- and forced marriage has not had the desired effect, so the application of this law must be revised.
Based on the principle of the equality of all people, no person shall be considered a means for another’s need, and traffic in women’s bodies is never acceptable. For this reason, neither commercial or altruistic surrogate motherhood must be legalized.
- Act against all forms of exploitation and objectification of the female body.
- Legislate against sexist advertising, marketing and objectification of women on TV and in films.
- Introduce a zero-acceptance vision of men’s violence against women.
- Seek the establishment of a commission of enquiry into the harmful effects of pornography and how pornographic films with elements resembling torture and pain may be countered and forbidden.
- Act against sex purchase and prostitution through greater cooperation among various social instances.
- Tighten up the sex purchase law so that purchase always leads to punishment in the form of deprivation of liberty.
- The Swedish sex purchase law must also apply to Swedish citizens who purchase sexual services abroad.
- Increase the penalty for sex offences. The rape legislation must cover consent and gross negligence.
- Guarantee long-term financing of our girls’ and women’s refuges.
- Introduce honor crime as an aggravating circumstance, together with measures to increase knowledge as a tool for identifying, meeting, preventing and fighting honor crime.
- The application of the law on greater protection against child- and forced marriages to be revised and enforced.
- Oppose surrogate motherhood, both nationally and internationally.
S-kvinnor has a long tradition of work for international peace and solidarity. We are convinced that this is the basis for handling today’s disquieting world developments. We are seeing how women’s rights are being undermined, how war and climate change are affecting women and forcing them to move.
Women’s economic and political empowerment is far from a matter of course, even though our societies and the world community would gain from greater equality, reduced poverty and greater economic growth.
Women’s struggle can only be won through international cooperation with other organizations and civil societies. An important instrument in the struggle for women’s rights is the UN Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women, which must be incorporated into Swedish legislation. The UN goals for sustainable development ”Agenda 2030” also include gender-equality targets such as eliminating violence against women, promoting women’s economic independence, entitling women to sexual and reproductive health and eliminating female circumcision and child- and forced marriages. S-kvinnor are fighting to ensure that all the countries in the world may reach these goals by 2030 at the latest.
Sweden must herself set the framework for international cooperating and not seek membership of the NATO military alliance. Our international efforts must in the first instance be peace-promoting and peacekeeping under the UN flag.
S-kvinnor is working for an active peace and disarmament policy. We wish to see a nuclear-weapon-free world. Swedish weapon exports must not go to dictatorships or countries that violate human rights.
Women’s participation in the struggle for peace and security
The greatest threat to people’s fundamental rights and security are global: poverty, disease and epidemics, climate change, war, sexual violence and terror.
Women’s participation in peace processes and conflict management is leading to greater striving towards peace and security, promoting the process of reconstruction following war. Research shows connections between a society’s equality and a reduced inclination to violence and corruption.
S-kvinnor continues to support the issue of Swedish recognition of a free Western Sahara. The UN agenda for women, peace and security – Resolution 1325 – must be implemented into global work for prevention. National action plans must demonstrate and reinforce women’s participation, power, influence and security before, during and after conflicts. Genus advisers must be involved in overseas missions, refugee camps and processes for reconstructing societies.
The UN and other international organs that deliberate on peace and security must be represented equally by women and men. More women need to be visible as leaders and role models in high positions. Peace treaties that do not show consideration for women’s perspectives or participation must not gain a hearing.
Sexual violence in war and conflict does not concern an individual outrage but systematic warfare that ruins women’s lives and the whole of a society. The purpose varies with the conflict. It may be to eradicate an ethnicity or people, or to humiliate and drag the victims and their families into the mud.
Feminist foreign policy is a holistic policy. It seeks to end the patriarchal war culture, rebuild securely functioning states governed by law, reduce poverty and meet fundamental requirements such as schools and education. Women and women’s organizations must take active part in the formulation of needs and measures.
Gender equality is crucial for the reduction of poverty, and aid must therefore be directed at efforts to promote this. Here it is all the more important that issues of sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR) receive priority. Aid directed to women has proved to give good results for the whole community. When aid is distributed equally women are empowered to change their lives, while poverty decreases for all. Aid money must not go to refugee reception in Sweden, but should benefit people in needy countries.
International union cooperation
Everyone’s right to work and economic independence is the basis for gender equality. Social democracy and the trade union movement must continue to work together with unions and workplaces to achieve a working life based on democratic values and human rights in all countries. S-kvinnor supports the International Labor Organization’s (ILO’s) eight fundamental conventions on the right to free association and negotiation, against child labor, against slave- and forced labor, against discrimination and for gender-equal salaries and minimal social rights for wage-earners the world over.
In a global economy the ILO’s competence for reinforcing international labor law is growing in importance. The ILO’s status must be raised, its work should be respected and promoted internationally by governments and other international organs.
ILO’s codes of conduct for multinational companies and also those of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) are at present only voluntary. By strengthening adherence to the codes we can influence and improve conditions for workers all over the world.
- Sweden must remain militarily alliance-free.
- Sweden must not seek membership of the NATO military alliance.
- Sweden must work actively for disarmament, peace and a nuclear-weapon-free world.
- Swedish weapons may not be exported to dictatorships or countries that violate human rights.
- The women’s convention must be incorporated into Swedish law.
- Counter child marriage, honor crime and polygamy both in Sweden and abroad.
- The UN agenda for women, peace and security, Resolution 1325, must be implemented in global preventive action.
- Denounce all forms of sexual violence in war and conflict in compliance with UN resolutions 1820 and 1960.
- SRHR must be given priority in development aid work.
- The UN and other international organs that decide on peace and security must have an equal representation of women and men.
- Gender counselors must be included in overseas missions, in refugee camps and in social reconstruction programs.
- Aid money must not go to refugee reception in Sweden, but should benefit people in needy countries.
Women and migration
People have always moved about. According to the World Bank, in 2015 there were about 250 million international migrants. Most have migrated to get work, most often in the same region or to countries with about the same welfare level. In 2015 record many people were also fleeing persecution, war and oppression: about 60 million according to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). The majority are fugitives in their own country or in nearby refugee camps, while a small proportion make their way to other regions or continents.
It is often overlooked that half of the world’s migrants are women. Female migration has long been seen as an effect of men’s migration but women also migrate on their own account and for their own reasons, particularly in workforce migration. This often involves great risks of exploitation. Many of these women do housework under extremely poor and uncertain conditions. Rights and regulations for workforce migration must be strengthened. Union policy collaboration is important, not least globally, bilaterally. Sweden should ratify the International Convention on the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of their Families (CMW) and encourage other EU countries to do the same.
In addition, as fugitives girls and women are particularly vulnerable and run great risks of being sexually exploited and becoming victims of human trafficking. The refugee situation has uncovered major shortcomings in EU refugee policy. Sweden must actively promote the securing of legal routes to Europe and promote increased global responsibility for people who are compelled to leave their homes. The international community must also make greater efforts to master the reasons for flight, and to treat incoming refugees with dignity.
Owing to catastrophes and conflicts caused by climate change, we must be prepared for increases in the numbers of refugees. Global, regional and national responsibility is a must for securing asylum rights and preventing the undermining of asylum-seekers’ rights. Sweden must become a model country in this work.
A broadened feminist focus is needed in refugee policy, which must note women’s special vulnerability as refugees and strengthen judgements of women’s reasons for protection. Sweden also needs to support the work for unaccompanied refugee children, both girls and boys, and for GLBT people who are refugees. Their particular vulnerability must be noted and their reasons for protection must get higher priority.
In line with international law and most people’s moral convictions, Sweden has undertaken to receive people in need of protection. S-kvinnor stands for solidarity in a world where the right to asylum is central. Asylum-seekers with reasons for needing protection must have the right to permanent residence permits and reunion with their families.
A humane refugee policy needs a reception system that can adapt to rapid changes in the numbers of asylum-seekers. We have a fairly well-functioning reception system but have also seen how certain social functions became enormously overloaded as the number of asylum-seekers increased rapidly. A just distribution of asylum-seekers among our municipalities is a key factor in creating a better reception system and strengthens acceptance for reception of refugees.
People who come to Sweden must be enabled to build their lives here. This necessitates a respectful reception and a well-functioning settling-in process. As soon as possible after arrival, asylum-seekers must be given a basic briefing regarding Swedish social life and the democratic values that govern this.
Early access to education, work experience or work is important so that people may as rapidly as possible earn an income of their own and power over their own lives. Here our folk high schools and study associations are an important resource and can act as a bridge into the community and working life. This also contributes to economic development and is profitable for the whole of society.
The state’s capacity to offer temporary dwellings should be such that the procurement of dwellings of doubtful quality at high prices is minimized. The Swedish independent living act (EBO) entitling asylum-seekers to compensation for dwellings they have arranged themselves must be revised. It must guarantee a dignified living situation and reduce segregation.
Children coming to Sweden must start preschool or school as soon as possible and receive support at their appropriate level. The period newly-arrived children spend in preparatory classes must be as short as possible so that they can move rapidly to ordinary classes.
Swedish for immigrants (SFI) needs to be made more flexible to take account of people’s differing backgrounds and requirements. To make SFI more effective the courses should be given already during the application period. This would speed up learning and make the waiting time more meaningful for the asylum-seekers. It should also be possible to study SFI during parental leave, chiefly to help women during their settling-in process. Child care should be offered as necessary for attending studies.
New arrivals’ education and experience must be utilized. Many who come here have knowledge and work experience which the Swedish labor market greatly needs. At the same time others have low levels of education and find it difficult to enter the labor market here. Efforts to help people settle in must cover everything from the validation of academic merits and work experience to initial literacy and the acquisition of basic knowledge. Improved and extended cooperation among the authorities is needed during the settling-in period.
It is especially difficult for women to enter the labor market. At the same time the special efforts offered to new arrivals such as entry level jobs, go predominantly to men. There should be a strategy for overcoming this dominance so that more women can share in the education and in working life.
It has been calculated that if women born outside Sweden were to enter the labor market as much as native-born women, the level of GNP would be 1.5% higher, unemployment one percent lower and public finances would be increased by about 37 thousand million kronor. That more get jobs and thus opportunities to support themselves, is a decisive factor for successful establishment in working and social life, and for increased economic equality between women and men.
- Sweden must ratify the UN convention on the rights of migrant workers (CMW).
- Sweden must work actively to secure legal avenues for seeking asylum in Europe.
- Sweden must work actively for substantive reception throughout the EU.
- Sweden must promote increased global responsibility for expropriated people.
- Draw attention to the vulnerability of women, unaccompanied children and LGBT people on the run, and place higher priority on their special reasons for protection.
- Permanent residence permits must apply to all who have been granted status as refugees in need of protection.
- People who have been granted residence permits must have the right to be reunited with their families.
- The EBO Act must be repealed and replaced with a system that reduces overcrowding and increases opportunities for good settling in.
- It must be possible to study SFI as early as under the application period and during parental leave.
- Improve and expand collaboration among the authorities regarding assistance with settling-in.
- Women’s participation in the labor market must increase.
Wordlist – abbreviations, etc.
BMI Body Mass Index. The relationship between a person’s height and their weight.
CMW UN convention on the rights of migrant workers.
Consent Consent means that sexual contacts are always based on free will. A perpetrator can therefore be convicted for sexual assault even where the victim has not said no or offered resistance.
EBO Act on independent living. Gives asylum-seekers the right to compensation for dwellings they arrange themselves.
Gender power structure The theory of men’s social dominance over women and that men as a group are superior to women as a group.
GNP Gross national product.
Gross negligence Gross negligence in the Sexual Offences Act means that a perpetrator need not have intended to commit a sexual crime to be convicted of this. It is a requirement that a person who has sex ascertains that there is consent; otherwise that person can be sentenced for rape.
Guarantee pension A basic pension everyone is entitled to from the age of 65 years irrespective of earlier or earned income. Size depends on civil state and length of stay in Sweden.
ILO The International Labor Organization. A UN organ for issues of working life.
LGBT Lesbian, gay, bisexual and transsexual people.
OECD The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development.
Screening programs for gynecological smear testing Notice to attend regular check-ups for early detection of cervical cancer. According to National Board of Health and Welfare recommendations, all women between 23 and 64 years are called.
SFI Swedish for immigrants.
Split shifts Several work periods during a day with unpaid gaps in between.
SRHR Sexual and reproductive health and rights.
Surrogate motherhood That a woman bears and gives birth to children on behalf of others. In commercial surrogate motherhood this is done for payment, while in altruistic surrogate motherhood there is no payment.
UNHCR The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees. The UN refugee program.