Why Sweden Is More Progressively Feminist Than Other Countries
Let’s face it–we all secretly want to move to Sweden and live in the lap of luxury (“luxury” being a comprehensive healthcare system). Even presidential candidate Bernie Sanders has nodded to the Nordic mindset of caring for its people. Porn for the blind? Sweden’s servin‘ it up hot and fresh. Puberty and sex education for children? Boom. Sweden’s got you. A tech festival empowering girls and women to join the field? Sweden’s like, “Yeah, duh.” Recently, the 2015 Global Gender Gap report revealed that Sweden lands 4th in giving its female citizens “economic participation and opportunity” (meanwhile the US has clocked in at 28, 6 ranks lower than last year).
Now, Sweden’s upping the ante once again by delivering a copy of Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s We Should All Be Feminists–the renowned author and Beyonce collaborator’s manifesto for gender equality–to every high school student in the country. The Swedish Women’s Lobby, and publisher Albert Bonniers have already distributed 1,000 copies of the essay, based on Adichie’s wildly successful TED Talk of the same name. Clara Berglund, Chairperson of the Swedish Women’s Lobby remarks, “It is a gift to all second grade high school students, but it is also a gift to ourselves and future generations.” A publisher at Albert Bonniers, Johanna Haegerström stated, “Our hope is that the Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie text will open up a conversation about gender and gender roles, starting from young people’s own experiences.”
However, this attitude of egalitarian understanding is not new for Sweden. In feminist writer Joyce Gelb’s book, Feminism and Politics: A Comparative Perspective, Gelb writes, “In the 1800s, women in Sweden gained the right to attend school, equal inheritance rights, and the right to conduct business in their own names…” AKA: Almost a century before the U.S. granted women those rights. Even earlier, acclaimed poet and feminist Hedvig Charlotta Nordenflycht wrote her now famous poem Fruentimrets försvar (The Defense of Women).
Sweden’s progressive stance has continued right into the 21st century. Last year, Sweden’s Feminist Initiative Party was the first feminist party to win a seat in Europe’s Parliament. The Washington Post reported on the country’s “subtly radical feminist foreign policy.” The article reads, “[Sweden’s Foreign Minister Margot] Wallström expanded on this definition, explaining that a feminist foreign policy meant ‘standing against the systematic and global subordination of women,’ adding that it was ‘time to become a little braver in foreign policy.’”
Sweden’s been going hard and fast in regards to women’s rights since day one, and clearly shows no intention of slowing down. Take a lesson everyone, because Sweden knows what it really means to be feminist allies.
Image via AP