************************************************************* The material posted here was provided to the Division for the Advancement of Women by the Government in response to a note verbale. It has being made available in electronic format from the form received. *************************************************************GOVERNMENT OFFICES
Ministry of Labour
UN Fourth World Conference
TABLE OF CONTENTS
Introduction .................................................................................. 1
A number of steps towards equality between women and men have been undertaken in Sweden since the Fourth World Conference on Women in Beijing. The following is a report of measures undertaken as well as of some of the measures planned with respect to the critical areas of concern of the Platform for Action (PFA).
During the autumn of 1995 and spring of 1996, work was actively carried out within the Swedish Cabinet Office in order to identify and analyse how Sweden is living up to the commitments within the PFA. Every department has studied the PFA within its respective area of responsibility and has reported the result to the division for Equality Affairs at the Ministry of Labour.
On the Government's behalf, the Minister for Equality Affairs has subsequently reported the results in a written communication to Parliament. The written communication also contains a report of how the policy for equality between women and men has developed during the last few years and sets forth the main features of the work for the years to come. A parliamentary debate with respect to the contents of the written communication took place in March, 1997.
In summary, it may be stated that Sweden is largely living up to the commitments in the PFA. The issues dealt with in the PFA are also those which form the basis of the Swedish national policy for equality. As a result, the issues in the PFA will be relevant to deal with in Sweden during the period up to the year 2000 and beyond. Consequently, Sweden will work further with regard to the critical areas of concern of the PFA and will regularly inform the Swedish Parliament with respect to the progress of the work and the results achieved.
Furthermore, Sweden will continue to work actively to integrate a gender perspective into it's international development cooperation and will act in various ways to strengthen the implementation of women's human rights globally.
It should also be noted that in the beginning of 1997, approximately 40 Swedish women's organisations and other organisations working for equality between women and men formed an umbrella organisation, SAMS. The formation of the new organisation may be regarded as a direct result of the Beijing Conference and the need to co-ordinate the Swedish NGO participation in international cooperation in the field of equality. One of the main aims of the newly formed organisation is to work with the Beijing PFA.
It should at last be noted that the listing of measures in the present report is not exhaustive.
Women and poverty
* The overriding goal of the Swedish development co-operation is to raise the standard of living of the poor. Sweden is active internationally in its work to combat poverty, and allocates 0.7 percent of the GDP as development assistance each year.
Measures 1995 - 1997
* During the spring of 1996, the Parliament decided, upon a proposal by the Government, that equality between men and women should constitute a new goal (together with five other goals) for Swedish development co-operation. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Swedish aid agency, SIDA (Swedish International Development Co-operation Agency), have developed guidelines and management programmes with the aim of transforming the goals into practice and have assessed how the skills and resources in assistance administration shall be strengthened so that these goals may be achieved.
* The goal of equality means that all development co-operation should be imbued with a gender perspective, including girls and boys. An gender perspective should thus characterise the work of country strategies and analyses of the economy and societal structure of the co-operating countries as well as the formation of individual contributions. Sweden shall also strive to ensure that the gender perspective characterises multilateral development co-operation, as well as analyses and the investments which are carried out by the EU, United Nations and the multilateral development banks.
* Sweden is actively working to ensure that international financing institutions integrate a gender perspective into their activities. Sweden partially finances, by way of example, a study within the framework for the World Bank's special programme for Africa in respect of how the gender perspective is integrated into the bank's structural adjustment programme in three African countries.
* SIDA has selected four co-operation countries, Vietnam, Tanzania, Namibia and Bangladesh, for specific and intensified equality-work based upon the PFA.
* In 1997, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs initiated a project for the mainstreaming of a gender perspective in the development co-operation through, inter alia, contributions to training and skills development for personnel in the Ministry. The project continues.
* SIDA works on the basis of a general plan, as well as multi-sector plans of action, in order to strengthen the gender perspective in all development co-operation. Equality is one of the four, specially prioritised areas of SIDA's work.
* Sweden is planning economic support, via UNDP, for the development of democracy in countries previously within the Soviet Union. This support will be aimed at, inter alia, measures which counteract inequality.
Women and men, including girls and boys, shall, pursuant the Swedish policy for equality, have equal access to training and the same opportunities to develop personnel ambitions, interests and talents. The Government is continously undertaking measures in order to achieve these goals.
Measures 1995 - 1997
* In 1995, Parliament acted on a Bill from the Government concerning equality between women and men, girls and boys, within the area of education. The Government Bill contains a series of proposals concerning the promotion of equality both within the public school system (compulsory school and upper secondary school) and higher education and research.
* Amendments to the Education Act, which includes rules for the public school system, have been implemented entailing, inter alia, a requirement that employees within the school system promote equality between the sexes. This means that the teachers shall base their teaching on issues and perspectives which interest both girls and boys. In addition, pursuant to the Education Act, all children and young persons, irrespective of issues such as gender, shall have equal access to education within the public school system. Corresponding provisions exist with respect to issues regarding adult education. The school's responsibility for actively promoting equal rights and opportunities for girls and boys and to counteract traditional gender patterns will also be emphasised in the curricula for schools.
* During 1997, the Government appointed a Parliamentary committee which shall deal, inter alia, with issues regarding training of teachers as well as the continuing and subsequent training of teachers. The investigation shall specifically consider the gender perspective and propose, inter alia, measures to accomplish an egual recruitment of women and men teachers.
* Rules in the University Ordinance concerning the grounds for promotion of teachers have been amended such that it is permissible, where necessary, to apply affirmative action of the underrepresented sex. A rule has also been introduced requiring universities endeavour to ensure that students are not subjected to sexual harassment.
* The Government has given all colleges and universities offering natural science and technical training the task of undertaking measures to increase the number of women within those educational programmes. In order to increase the number of men, a corresponding task has been assigned to educational institutions with respect to teacher and health-care training.
* The Government has allocated funds for the establishment of a number of professorships and research assistant positions for the underrepresented sex. Funds have also been allocated for female doctoral candidates and post-doctoral stipends and guest professorships for female researchers.
* During the autumn of 1996, the Government presented a Bill regarding research which contains proposals to increasingly promote research with a gender perspective. By way of example, it was proposed that funds be allocated to establish a number of professorships with this aim, and a secretariat connected to a university with the task of investigating, creating opinion, stimulating, documenting and providing information concerning gender research.
* In the spring of 1997, a Bill was presented to Parliament with, inter alia, a proposal for concrete time-bound targets for the recruitment of professors of the underrepresented sex at each of the universities and some of the colleges. If the target is not fulfilled by the university in question, the Government can withdraw funds from the university and stipulate that such funds should be used only for the recruitment of professors of the underrepresented sex.
* The Government, through supervision by the National Agency for Education, will continue to pursue the goal of equality concerning, inter alia, the division of the Education Act into manageable and concrete goals in the schools' own school and work plans.
* The Government has appointed two committees to investigate whether the rights of boys and girls to equal education is observed in compulsory and upper-secondary schools. The committees' work will be concluded in 1997.
* The Government has given the National Agency for Education the task of pursuing and evaluating equality within schools. The National Agency for Education is currently preparing a strategy for equality issues and is carrying out a comprehensive project which, inter alia, aims to pursue the development of equal opportunities within schools and, specifically, to ensure that equality issues are considered in connection with the Agency's evaluation and development work.
* The Government has taken the initiative to implement a five-year adult education programme with 100,000 new places. The adult education measures, to be commenced on 1 July 1997, will have an especially significant roll for women and men in fields which suffer from economic and structural changes, e.g. within health care and manufacturing industries. The programme will also actively contribute to breaking the gender imbalance within the labour market.
Health care and medical services is an important sector of Swedish welfare. The Swedish national health care system is designed to give everyone equal treatment and care irrespective of his or her economic, social or health circumstances. In addition, every inhabitant from the age of 16 is eligible for social insurance benefits, including sickness benefit.
Sexual and reproductive health is an issue with longstanding traditions in Sweden. Sex education is, since long (it was first introduced in 1942), an integrated part of school education for both boys and girls, normally already from the first grade. Sex education comprises education about sex, health and personal relationsships. Contraceptives and contraceptive guidance is regularly offered by the maternity care centers as well as by independent centres, youth clinics and the health and medical care system. Abortions are free up to the 18th week of pregnancy. For later abortions, special permission is required. A woman who has asked for an abortion is always offered the possibility of counselling.
A variety of means have been and are continously being employed in the combatting of sexual transmitted diseases (STDs).
Measures 1995 - 1997
* One of the five programme areas within the Institute for Public Health concerns women's health. It's programme statement points out that legislation, research, education, working life, medicine and other treatment are mostly based on men's needs and conditions. During 1995, the Institute financed several regional and local projects related to women's health. Measures have also been undertaken directed to young women. During 1996, special attention was directed towards the health situation of personel (mostly women) working in the care sector.
* In 1995, the Government allocated funds (SEK 1,5 million) for development projects with the aim of integrating issues concerning women's health into the basic medical education as well as in further training programmes for medical doctors.
* In August 1996, a committee with the task of investigating the way women and men, respectively, are received and treated by the health and medical services, presented it's final report to the Government. The committee proposes, inter alia, increased support to research related to women's health, further measures to integrate a gender perspective in medical and other education in this fields, and ways and means for evaluation and monitoring of progress in this field. The report is presently studied within the Ministry of Health and Social Affairs with a view of taking further measures in the field of women's health.
* Several measures have been undertaken to support women with disabilites. Funds have been allocated for projects and other development work, with the aim of strengthening disabled women's possibilities for rehabilitation and access to various forms of assistance. The Ministry for Health and Social Affairs has initiated several studies in order to increase the knowledge about the living conditions for women with disabilities and the difference in conditions between disabled women and men. The Office of the Disability Ombudsman works actively to promote issues related to disabled women.
* Measures have also been undertaken in the area of women's health and safety at work. The National Board of Occupational Safety and Health has been charged with the task of paying increased attention to women's and gender issues. The Institute for Working Life has initiated several studies on the health situation in occupational sectors dominated by women.
* The Government will take further action on issues related to women's health and gender-based differences in the activites of the health and medical sectors, inter alia, based on the report submitted by the above mentioned committee.
* Continuing attention will be paid to the situation of disabled women. Ways and means to improve statistical indicators related to women and men with disabilities will be studied.
* Sweden will continue it's active international work to promote issues related to sexual and reproductive health, not least in order to contribute to the implementation of the results of the UN, Cairo- and Beijing Conferences. These issues therefore play, inter alia, an important part in Sweden's international development cooperation.
Issues concerning the prevention of violence against women have high priority in Sweden. The Government considers men's violence against women to be one of the most serious expressions of the lack of equality and, consequently, also of the imbalance which still exists in the power relationship between the sexes, both between individual women and men and in society at large. During the last few years, a number of measures have been undertaken to counteract violence against women and to support, aid and protect vulnerable women. Amongst those measures, legislation and changes to existing legislation, e.g. increased penalties for a number of violent and sexual crimes, might be pointed out. New rules have also been introduced to increase the protection of children against sexual abuse. Efforts have also been made with respect to preventive measures, e.g. training of personel within the legal system, social services and health care system.
Furthermore, the National Police Board has received funds for the development of emergency protection for women subjected to violence or at risk. This protection is now available at all police districts in the form of specially equipped emergency kits, containing cellular phones, alarm systems for the home etc. Threatened women can, in particularly serious cases, receive body guards, free of charge.
In the beginning of the 1990s, the Goverment allocated funds for the setting up of a chair in sociology, specifically women's studies and with a particular focus on issues related to violence against women, at Uppsala University.
Measures 1995 - 1997
* The Commission on Violence Against Women submitted it's final report to the Government in 1995. The Commission had, according to its terms of reference from the Government, the task of carrying out an overview of issues relating to violence against women and to propose additional measures, inter alia, within the legal system, social services and health care. The Commission had the duty of preparing its proposals from a women perspective. The Commission's report was sent to a large number of organisations and government authorities for their views before the Swedish Cabinet Office continued with the work of preparing the Commission's proposals. Those viewpoints were compiled into a single report in the autumn of 1996.
* A national centre for women who have been assaulted and raped was established during the autumn of 1995. The initial stage of the centre's activities has been financed with state funds. The task of the centre is to carry out patient admissions, research and development, and to provide training and information. The centre also provides hotlines around the clock.
* The Government has increased the financial support to the Swedish NGO for emergency shelters for battered women (ROKS) .
* The Government has supported various projects (including information activities) related to violence against women.
* In order to stimulate increased knowledge and debate concerning men and violence, the Government convened a conference on men and violence in the beginning of 1997. The aim was to focus particularly on the role of men and men�s responsibility with regard to violence against women.
* Also in the beginning of 1997, a hearing was organised with respect to violence against migrant women.
* During the fall of 1997, the Government will, as a result of the report of the Commission on Violence Against Women, present a Bill to Parliament with proposals to further counteract violence against women. The Government Bill will deal, inter alia, with issues relating to legislation, notably the Penal Code, the judiciary, the social services and health care system, as well as financial support to NGOs working to protect women who have been subjected to violence. Issues related to the training of personel in the judiciary and other authorities will also be considered. In addition, the Bill will contain further measures to counteract prostitution. In the context of preparing the Bill, work is also being undertaken in order to consider ways and means to strengthen the present provisions concerning female genital mutilation and the provisions in the Equal Opportunities Act relating to sexual harassment.
* The Government will make continuous efforts to improve the situation of women victims of crime.
* The Government will consider whether measures are necessary in order to prevent the risk that women, moving to Sweden due to a connection with a person residing in Sweden, are exposed to abuse or other offensive treatment by such person.
* Sweden will continue to work with issues regarding trafficking in women.
Women and armed conflict
Sweden will continue to actively promote in various ways and in various fora (UN, OSSE, UNHCR, etc) that increased attention is paid to crimes and acts of violence committed against women in armed conflicts, in particular relating to practical measures in concrete field situations. The vulnerable situation of women and girls in internal disturbances and conflicts will also be continously adressed, including by promoting efforts to enhance their protection. Sweden will also work actively towards increased attention being paid to the male perpetrators of crimes against women in armed conflicts and seek to encourage that, inter alia, educational and information efforts are undertaken by various fora concerned. In the efforts to punish war crimes and crimes against humanity, including rape, Sweden is actively working towards the establishment of a permanent international criminal court.
According to the Swedish policy for equality, women and men should have the same opportunities to achieve economic independence through gainful employment and parents should be able to combine work with parental responsibilities. To reach these goals, an active work is continously being undertaken in order to improve women's conditions in the labour market and to strenghten their economic situation. Measures already taken have contributed to women being increasingly less dependant on a man for their support. Sweden is today a two-bread-winner-society. Most Swedish women work, also those with small children. Women's entrepeneurship is increasing. A higher proportion of men take parental leave. Nevertheless, much remains to be done before full equality in the labour market and the economy prevails.
Measures 1995 - 1997
* In accordance with paragraph 164 of the PFA, the National Audit Bureau has been assigned to analyse all labour market policy measures from a gender perspective. The report is expected at the end of 1997.
* The Government has charged the National Labour Market Administration with the task of integrating a gender perspective in its work to carry out the national labour market policy. One important task in this respect is to break down the sex-segregation of the labour market, to which the Administration has special funds at its disposal.
* In 1995, the Goverment appointed the Commission on the distribution of economic power and financial resources between women and men. The aim of the Commission's work is to aquire and present further knowledge on how the economic policy affects the situaiton of women and men respectively, to make differences in economic and financial conditions between women and men visible and to propose measures in this field. The Commission has already presented several studies. It's final report is due at the end of 1997.
* In 1996, the Government presented a Bill to Parliament concerning employment. The Bill, which was adopted by Parliament in the spring of 1997, contained several measures which will improve the situation of women in the labour market, inter alia, investment in education and training, several measures in order to meet the Government's goal of halfing open employment by the year 2 000, improved conditions for women entrepreneurs, etc.
* In 1996, the Ministry of Labour initiated a 2-year project within the Ministry, with the aim of elaborating methods and gaining increased knowledge on ways and means to eliminate differences between women and men in the labour market and in working life.
* The budget of the Equal Opportunities Ombudsman, who has the task of supervising compliance with the Equal Opportunities Act, was substantially increased as of 1997.
* The Institute for Working Life has received funds for a 3-year research-project on pay differentials between women and men and work evaluation.
* The Government is continously pursuing an active dialogue with the social partners concerning pay differentials between women and men. To this end, the Government, in 1996, invited the social partners to attend a hearing on the issue.
* The Government has made funds available for the improvement of the offcial statistics on pay, so that the statistical indicators, better than today, can form the basis for enhanced analyses of women's and men's pay.
* In 1995, private industry in Sweden created a "Business leadership Academy" with the aim of supporting and promoting women entrepreneurs. The Government provided initial financial support for the Academy.
* The Swedish National Board for Industrial and Technical Development is conducting several activities with the aim of supporting women entrepreneurs.
* To strengthen the position of women and to break the sex segregation in the labour market are issues which are continously in the forefront in the Swedish labour market policy, in particular in the work to half the open unemployment by the year 2000 and to increase employment for all. Measures are thus being taken on a regular basis.
* The National Labour Market Board has been charged with the task of reporting, by the end of 1997, measures taken in order to counteract the sex segregation of the labour market and in particular to analyse the impact of earlier measures in this respect.
* Continued attention will be paid to gender-based pay differentials, and the dialogue with the social partners on these issues will be further developed.
* When the final report of the Commission on the distribution of economic power and financial resources between women and men is available, by the end of 1997, the Government will consider further measures to strenghten the position of women in the economy.
* The Government will propose a strengthening of the provisions in the Equal Opportunities Act relating to sexual harassment in the work place.
The attainment of an equal distribution of power and influence between women and men is an important goal of Swedish policy for equality. From an international perspective, Sweden has come a long way with regard to the distribution and redistribution of power between women and men. The equal number of women and men in the Government and the forty per cent share of women in the Swedish Parliament are the result of political will, combined with demands from NGOs and individuals.
Notwithstanding progress that has been made, continued efforts are required in order to increase women's power and influence in all areas of society, within both the private and the public sectors. In Sweden, the Government has limited possibilities for detailed control and direct influence upon developments in this area, apart from cases in which the Government itself appoints persons to governmental posts or in those cases where the Government decides upon employment. An understanding that, in certain cases, increased power for women can only be achieved through a redistribution of power from men to women must, therefore, be disseminated and gain acceptance in society in general.
Women and men on state boards and committees
The Government has a goal that, by 1998, 50 per cent of the members of state boards and committees at central and regional level will be women. In 1996, 39 per cent were women.
Measures 1995 - 1997
The following measures were carried out in order to further the development towards an equal distribution of the sexes in state boards and committees:
* The distribution between men and women in state boards and committees at central and regional level is reported annually to Parliament.
* The various Ministries' proposals for assignments are notified to the Cabinet Office's Equality Affairs Division and the Division has to approve of the proposal in writing prior to the matter being brought before the Government for a decision. When organisations or agencies are offered to be represented on a committee or a state board, they are requested to submit proposals containing two names, a man and a women, for each place offered so that the Government can choose, according to the need to achieve an even distribution between women and men.
* Financial support is given to NGOs and agencies etc. for projects and other efforts to increase the portion of women in various decision-making fora.
* The Government will continue its work to achieve an equal distribution between the sexes on state boards and committees. Special efforts will be made to attain an equal distribution between the sexes in 1998.
* During 1996, the Government granted funds to the Swedish Association of Local Authorities and the Federation of County Councils for a project conducted in three municipalities and two county councils aimed at stimulating more active work towards, inter alia, increased female representation on municipal tribunals and boards. The experience gained from this project will be disseminated throughout the country and an evaluation will be presented prior to the general election to the Swedish Parliament in 1998.
Women and men as managers in the public and private sectors
The Government is actively working to achieve an equal distribution between male and female managers within the public sector and is attempting to stimulate the development in this field within the private sector as well.
One target is that, during the Government's present term of office, at least half of the positions as agency managers appointed by it within the public administration, should be awarded to women. The governmental agencies have been encouraged to establish corresponding targets with regard to the distribution of women and men at management level.
Measures 1995 - 1997
* Twice a year, the Government produces statistics regarding the number of women and men employed at different levels within the Cabinet Office. A statistical survey of the pay differences between women and men employed in the Cabinet Office is also published regularly.
* During 1997, Statistics Sweden presented, at the request of the Government, a survey of the portion of women and men serving as managers within the public and private sectors, and their salary levels.
* The State's Renewal Fund has, during the period 1995-1996, carried out a managerial development programme for female managers.
* Work will be intensified towards attaining the goal that at least half of the public agency managers appointed by the Government during its term of office will be women.
* When Statistics Sweden has completed its study, the Government will consider how statistics can be produced on a regular basis regarding the portion of male and female managers within the public administration.
* The Government intends to adopt measures for the promotion of more active work within governmental agencies with regard to the issue of the portion of male and female managers.
* Employers and employees in the state sector will be invited to participate in discussions concerning further measures which might be required in order to intensify the work in recruitment and management issues.
* During 1997, the State's Renewal Fund will continue its work with the managerial development programme for female managers.
* The National Agency for Government Employers is planning a mentor programme for new and future female managers within the state sector.
* The primary responsibility for increasing the portion of women in higher positions in the private sector lies with the representatives of the business community. A newly established foundation, the so-called Business Leadership Academy, which has been established on the initiative of the business sector and with the support of the Government, is undertaking several measures in this respect.
A national machinery for the advancement of women has been in place at central governmental level since the early 1970s. Also since the 70s, a Cabinet Minister has held the overall responsibility for the Government's policy for equality between women and men. At the beginning of the 80s, a separate Equality Affairs Division was established at central governmental level. At present, the Division is located at the Ministry of Labour, and the Minister for Equality Affairs is also located in that same Ministry. However, since there is a conviction in Sweden that a policy for equality cannot be developed independently of other policy areas, each Minister in the Swedish Government is responsible for promoting, analysing, evaluating and following-up the work for equality in his or her respective field of resonsibility.
The Equality Affairs Division and the Equal Opportunities Ombudsman are the two main components of the Swedish national machinery for equality. In recent years, however, there is an expert for equality in each of the 24 counties in Sweden. This expert is located at the County Administrative Board and has the responsibility for the mainstreaming of a gender perspective at regional level.
It can also be noted that the Government regularly consults with NGOs, mainly through the Equal Opportunities Commission, in which more than 30 NGOs are represented and which the Minister for Equality Affairs chairs.
is charged, inter alia, with:
* Supporting and pushing through the work for equality centrally and regionally, and developing methods and tools for the integration and implementation of a gender perspective into all policy areas.
* Reviewing, for example, proposals from other Ministries regarding Bills and written communications to Parliament, terms of reference for committees and proposals for assignments in committees and state boards, in order to ensure that a gender perspective has been taken into account and in order to monitor the work towards fulfilling the target of an even distribution of women and men in committees and state boards.
* Initiating education and training for the Cabinet Office and Government Authorities regarding equality between women and men.
* Processing applications for the funding of development work and projects on equality issues.
* Administering budget and appropriation issues which relate to the Equal Opportunities Ombudsman, as well as being responsible for matters concerning the Equal Opportunities Act.
The Equal Opportunities Ombudsman
is charged, inter alia, with:
* Ensuring compliance with the Equal Opportunities Act (equality in working life). This takes place through advise and information and through negociations with individual employers and employees and/or their organisations. The Ombudsman also provides assistance in disputes regarding violations of the Act. Another important responsibility of the Ombudsman is to inform and in other suitable ways promote equality in the workplaces.
* The budget of the Equal Opportunities Ombudsman has been considerably increased as of 1997.
Mainstreaming is recognized in Sweden as a means, a tool, in the efforts to achive the goal, which is equality between women and men. It implies not only the integration of a gender perspective into all policy areas, but also strategic planning, accountability and monitoring in the short- as well as in the long-term work. Mainstreaming thus does not exclude that special measures, such as projects or the allocating of funds etc., are taken in order to strengthen the position of women both in the labour market and in other spheres.
Work to promote and to develop tools for mainstreaming has been considerably intensified in Sweden in recent years, particularly as a result of the Beijing Conference. The main responsibility for this work rests with the Minister for Equality Affairs, the State Secretary for Equality Affairs and the Division for Equality Affairs at the Ministry of Labour. It is important to note, however, that the Division's role is to promote, encourage and support. The actual work of integrating a gender perspective has to be carried out by the Ministries, in their respective fields of responsibility. There are three important cornerstones in the strategy used:
- Making gender visible. To this end statistics disaggregated by sex is indispensable. The Government has therefore given instructions to Statistics Sweden to present all official statistics ,which are based on individuals, dissaggregated by sex. The same goes
- Increase the knowledge of issues concerning women and men. To this end the Equality Affairs Division has developed a training course on equality for Ministers, State Secretaries, Political Advisors and Press-Secretaries in the Cabinet Offices. Most of these have already attended. The training is presently being extended to all top managers of the public authorities. The main aim of the training is to provide basic facts on the situation of women and men, respectively, in the Swedish society and to discuss equality issues in relation to the national goals for equality.
- Develop tools and methods. The overall responsibility to monitor that mainstreaming is used as a method by all Ministries, rests with the Ministry of Labour. To this end, the State Secretary for Equality Affairs meets regularly with her collegues from other ministries to discuss, inter alia, gender impact analyses and promotion and evaluation of activities performed or measures undertaken. The Government has also engaged an expert on gender issues who will support the Ministries in their elaboration of their own tools for mainstreaming, such as sex segregated statistics, training courses, checklists and evaluation systems.
Since a few years back, all governmental committees of inquiry are charged with the task of analysing their proposals (including organizational and budgetary matters) from a gender perspective. At present, an evaluation of the extent to which the committees have lived up to these demands is taking place within the Cabinet Offices.
Women's rights in Sweden are safeguarded by the Constitution and by several laws, the most central being the Equal Opportunities Act. But also family legislation and legislation in the field of education as well as other laws contain provisions to strenghten the position of women and to promote equality between women and men. The Equality Affairs Division at the Ministry of Labour is continously studying proposals for new legislation, in order to see to it that women's rights are fully covered.
Many of the measures taken domestically in this field are described under other headings in this report. For example, the work to prevent violence against women, measures concerning the Equal Opportunities Act, legal provisions relating to women in education, etc. are dealt with in those chapters respectively.
Over the years, Sweden has been working actively for the promotion of the integration of the human rights of women into the United Nations human rights programmes and for the full enjoyment by women worldwide of human rights and fundamental freedoms.
* For domestic measures, reference is made to the other chapters of this report.
* Sweden will continue its active work for the promotion and protection of the human rights of women throughout the world, in international fora as well as bilaterally.
* Sweden will continue to object to reservations made to the Convention on the elimination of all forms of discrimination against women, when such reservations run contrary to international treaty law.
* Continuous attention will be paid to how issues on the human rights of women and violations of those rights are dealt with by the various mechanisms and procedures of human rights, including the treaty bodies.
* The Swedish International Development Co-operation Agency supports projects and other measures to strenghten the human rights of women within the framework of the Swedish development cooperation, including issues related to female genital mutilation.
* Sweden is considering ways and means to give further support, including financially, to the work of the UN Special Rapporteur on violence against women, its causes and consequences.
In 1996, Parliament decided on new legislation concerning radio and television. According to the new Radio and Television Act, the public service broadcasting companies (radio and television) shall ensure that their broadcasting activities as a whole are characterized by the fundamental democratic constitutional concepts and principles concerning the equality of people and the individual's freedom and integrity. This includes, inter alia, an obligation to promote equality between women and men.
The printed media have adopted ethical rules for the publication of printed material in newspapers. According to the rules, race, sex and nationality shall not be emphasised if it is not relevant or if it could be misleading.
The Government has in recent years supported efforts to promote equality between women and men in the media. Financial support to various projects has been given. The Government has also allocated funds to the Departments of Journalism, Communication and Masscommunication at the Universities, in order to stimulate a more active work of integrating a gender perspective into the activities undertaken.
Women and the environment
Sweden is presently taking a wide range of measures in order to increase the pace towards an ecologically sustainable society. To this end, the Prime Minister has formed a group of Ministers to deal explicitly with issues related to sustainable development. The Minister for Equality Affairs is part of this group. Efforts are presently being undertaken in order to fully integrate a gender perspective in the work ahead. This means, inter alia, that future local investment and investment programmes concerning sustainable development should take gender into account, for instance related to physical planning, housing, public transport etc. In particular, efforts should be made to increase the participation of women in decision-making related to the measures undertaken.
All municipalities in Sweden are actively engaged in work to implement Agenda 21. The National Agenda 21 Committee has the task of spreading information of this work and to promote the further develoment of the implementation at national level.
In Sweden, all children have a fundamental right to safety, good bringing up and care. All children have the right to a good start in life. They also have the right to have their material, emotional, psychological and social needs provided for. Swedish children also have the legal right to education and child care, to support from the social services and access to the health and medical system.
In August 1997, Sweden hosted the International World Congress against commercial exploitation of children. The Congress adopted a declaration and a plan of action, the latter urging all States to take action against commercial exploitation of children and to adopt national plans of action. In 1996, the Swedish Government appointed a working group with representatives from various Ministries with the task of elaborating a proposal for a national plan of action. This work will be completed in short. Sweden is also in various relevant fora and organs, e.g. the Commission on Human Rights, UNICEF, UNHCR, etc. working actively towards more measures in regard to the situation of the girl child.
Examples of measures taken
Several measures have been taken in recent years in order to strenghten the position of children. They include amendments in family legislation and legislation governing the social services with the aim of emphasising that what is best for the child is always to be in the forefront. Amendments to the Penal Code have been made with a view to increase the protection of children against sexual abuse. Particular measures have been taken with a view to integrate a gender perspective into the work relating to children. For instance, attention has been paid and is continously being paid to the situation of girls and boys in school. Ways and means are being considered with the aim of making teachers aware of the different needs of girls and boys.
* Several measures are presently being considered. These will be described in further reporting by Sweden in the Beijing follow-up process. It deserves to be mentioned that the Government is presently working on issues related to child pornography and in this context considering a strengthening of legal provisions concerning criminalization of the possession and other use of child pornography.
* With a view to further protect children from the risk of sexual abuse, the Government will also consider if it is feasible to take measures aimed at finding ways and means for an employer to examine the suitability of hiring a person for work in the public child care - or school systems.