Den 22 oktober genomför FN:s Kvinnokommitté sitt förhör med Sveriges regering. Inför förhöret kommittén ett digitalt förmöte med berörda civilsamhällesorganisationer. Sveriges Kvinnoorganisationers generalsekreterare höll ett anförande vid förmötet. Läsa hela anförande nedan och titta på en inspelning av förmötet här.

Anförande vid Kvinnokommitténs förmöte 18 oktober 2021

Distinguished experts, women’s human rights defenders,

The Swedish Women’s Lobby is umbrella organization for the Swedish women’s movement with 47 member organizations. Today I’m speaking on behalf of the Swedish CEDAW-network – an alliance of 20 feminist organizations that work to spread the word about the convention and monitor its’ implementation in Sweden. 

In the 70s and 80s Sweden introduced several broad, progressive, and groundbreaking gender equality reforms, such as separate taxation, expansion of public childcare and earmarked parental leave for fathers. These reforms enabled more women to work and fend for themselves. They were also instrumental in turning Sweden into one of the most gender equal countries in the world.

Unfortunately, not much has happened since. The last decades we have seen very few gender equality reforms in Sweden. The main finding of our shadow report is that Sweden has reached a standstill, and in some cases the situation for women and girls has even deteriorated. In our report we have 120 demands and suggestions on how to realize women’s rights and gender equality in Sweden, I will tell you about a few of them.

Article 13. Economic and social rights

The gap between women’s and men’s total income is 23 percent, it was also 23 percent in 1995, 25 years ago. Men have accumulated much more capital than women. And taxes and public transfers are not as effective in evening out income gaps as they used to be. In fact, several tax reforms of late have increased financial inequality between women and men.

Pensions, public allowances, and social insurances have not increased as much as pay and capital incomes. A large group of women, among them many pensioners, is having a hard time making ends meet. To change this Sweden needs to increase transfers that have lagged behind for far too long, especially pensions, and introduce a new, more fair tax reform.

Article 12. Health care

The life expectancy of working-class women in Sweden is declining for the first time in 200 years. Women in Sweden are on sick leave almost twice as much as men, usually because of mental illness, often caused by severe stress. In the national public health survey 49 percent of women stated that they had problems with worry or anxiety. Migrant women have more health issues and consumes less healthcare than other women.

The high and growing rates of mental illness among girls and young women is especially worrying. 62 percent of 15-year-old girls suffer from psychosomatic problems, that’s about twice as many as boys the same age.

Maternity care continues to be under-financed and under-staffed. The price for this is paid by pregnant women, newborn children and all the women working in this essential part of the health care system.

The CEDAW Network suggest that the primary care system should be responsible for mental health care and be given enough resources. More needs to be done to improve working conditions and wages for women that works in the welfare sector. Also, Sweden needs to take the next step and divide the parental leave period evenly between the parents.

Article 2. Legislation prohibiting discrimination

The Discrimination Act state that cases of discrimination are to be investigated, analysed, tackled and followed up. In practice, however, employers don’t have to follow the law, especially when it comes to the duty to implement active measures to combat wage discrimination and sexual harassment. The supervision that is carried out by the Equality Ombudsman (DO) is very limited and weak. In general, there is no follow-up to ensure that the shortcomings of employers are rectified.

The role and mandate of DO need to be clarified. More employers should be investigated, and a system of follow-up and sanctions should be applied.

We are deeply concerned about future changes to the Gender Recognition Act that are begin prepared by the government as we speak. The amendments that will redefine legal sex to mean anyone’s self-experienced gender identity conflates two different grounds for discrimination in the Discrimination Act – sex and gender identity.

Recommendation No. 35. Violence against women
As the CEDAW committee asserted in our previous recommendations there is near impunity for men’s violence against women in Sweden, especially when it comes to rape and sexual violence and honour based violence and oppression. Only 5 percent of reported rapes lead to convictions. The prevalence of sexual exploitation and grooming online is growing. According to a survey every second 15 year-old girl have been contacted for sexual purposes on the internet by someone they think is an adult.

There is a need for special training and earmarked funding for the police and social services to work with violence against women. All police regions should establish special units working with sexual violence against women. Violence against women and girls with disabilities must be monitored through statistics, something that is lacking today.

Distinguished experts, thank you for taking the time to listed to the Swedish women’s movement’s testimony. We hope and trust that you will use the information that we have provided to hold our government accountable for not living up to CEDAW.