[inline:01]Lower taxes for single mothers and a new government quango for the “liberation” of women. These are the proposals of a Swedish government commission. Gudrun Schyman of the new Swedish political movement Feminist Initiative (Feministiskt initiative, Fi), however, is demanding more: a six-hour working day.
The next general election in Sweden is scheduled for 17 September 2006. Last April 4, Gudrun Schyman presented the Feminist Initiative. Fi is a feminist network but is aiming to become a political party by next year so it can participate in the elections for the Riksdag, the Swedish Parliament. Opinion polls indicate that Fi may threaten the social-democrats of Prime Minister Göran Persson and could in this way indirectly lead to a conservative government.
According to its manifesto Fi was established to “fight the systematic oppression of women and abolish the patriarchical power structures.” Apparently, while the rest of us thought Sweden was a feminist model society (45% of its parliamentarians are women, as are 11 of its 22 government ministers), (PDF) the Swedish women were living in bondage. The Fi’s message appeals to many, the polls indicate. As a result, all the leftist parties have begun to put forward feminist demands.
Hence the installation by the social-democratic government of a special commission on women’s rights. The commission concluded that Sweden needs a new official institution to promote women’s lib. Why not? It recently emerged that Sweden has 552 official institutions and councils, employing a total of 230,000 people. So another quango with 50 employees cannot be a problem. One wonders how Sweden can survive with such a “minimal” state.
The commission also proposed that single parents should pay lower taxes than married couples. As most single parents are women this would benefit the fairer sex. The commission also wants rules for dividing parental leave more evenly between fathers and mothers – hence, less freedom for the parents to decide such matters themselves.
Fi does not think these proposals are sufficient. It demands a working day of maximum six hours and a law which obliges parents to divide parental leave evenly between them, so that the mother “need not” spend more hours with her child than the father. The Party of the Left (Vänsterpartiet) which supports the Persson government, has reacted by stressing that these two demands are old demands which it has always championed.
However, within Fi itself there is some internal discord. Tiina Rosenberg, a professor in gender studies and a lesbian activist, who studied in East-Germany for three years at Karl Marx University, is threatening to leave the organisation if it does not speak out for homosexuals, bisexuals and transsexuals as well. According to Rosenberg, the feminist movement adopts too much of a heterosexual world view.