Gender Equality in the Swedish Welfare State

Eva-Maria Svensson, Asa Gunnarsson


Sweden represents utopia for many women’s activists around the world. The article tries to explain the policies that created the vision of a women-friendly welfare state. Global gender gap indexes have placed Sweden in the top five for many years. The success is measured in a high level of labour market participation and education, instituted policies for the reconciliation of work and family life and women’s bodily and physical integrity. Even though many feminists do not wish to see any dark stains on the glorified picture of Sweden as a gender equal society, a critical examination of remaining gender-biased practices such as the uneven distribution of economic and political power and the gendered segregation of the labour market is also be presented. Another critical aspect is the exclusionary effects of the Swedish gender equality policies. Despite its critical stance the article defends a large part of the strong and comprehensive structural base for achieving gender equality that has become a role-model for many feminists.


Sweden; gender equality; welfare state

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