|Feminism and Politics|
source ref: ebook.html
The analysis presented thus far suggests the following propositions regarding political change, based on our comparison of Britain and the United States:
It may be argued that to examine these propositions by using only two cases is not sufficient. Therefore, in this chapter we examine the case of Sweden to help us
further illuminate the processes leading to political and social change.
Sweden has often been viewed as the nation in which equality has proceeded further than in any other Western country. Ruggie (1984:17) regards Sweden as the society in which the interests of women workers have been most nearly realized, while Adams and Winston (1969) portray the Swedish approach to the integration of working women into the labor force and political system as in many ways superior to the American approach. Baude (1979:171) has suggested that Sweden has witnessed the development of a new role identity for women. The purpose of this chapter, then, is to examine what has been achieved in Sweden, viewed within the context of the propositions outlined at the outset. What light does the Swedish experience shed on issues of autonomy, the sources of social change, and the impact of feminism as a social movement on political systems?
To a far greater degree than is true for either Britain or the United States, Swedish politics has been dominated by the primacy of party government and the continuity of power. In Sweden, "the individual legislator is elected as one among several representatives from multimember constituencies. He or she is nominated by the party and represents the party more than the special interests of the constituency. Cabinet ministries and administrative agencies are formally separated from each other. In reality, though, there is close cooperation on most matters of policy interpretation and implementation guidelines. Special interests in Sweden are thoroughly organized. They are represented not only on the
main vehicles for Swedish policy formulation, the Royal Commissions, but also on the boards of administrative agencies" (Lundqvist 1980:182). Moreover, the courts have no balancing power vis-Ã -vis the executive or legislative branches of government. Private interest groups thus cannot use the courts as a means for challenging government policy. In short, the center of gravity in the Swedish polity lies in the cabinet.
The bureaucratic structure in Sweden may appear to be more susceptible to party and other political intervention, and possibilities for recruitment to a more open political system seem greater than is the case in Britain. Nonetheless, the political impact of corporatism (tripartism), or representation of the economic groups (largely employers and unions), again moderates the extent to which promotional groups may gain representation.
Swedish political parties dominate interest group mobilization and aggregation as well as policy-making to a significant degree. In the highly organized Swedish state, the public sector makes up almost two-thirds of the Gross National Product, and public sector employment involves about 40 percent of the working population.
The Swedish system is recognized as a consensual democracy, or a liberal democratic state characterized by a low level of opposition to the framework of rules and regulations for the resolution of conflict (Elder, Thomas, and Arter 1982:10). In such a system, groups tend to be absorbed by the corporatist state; alienated subgroups that resort to violence, protest, or even dissent are rare, as evidenced by the relatively low incidence of strikes (until recently) and the tradition of voluntary collective agreements between business and labor. The system's apparent openness to popular views is exemplified by the commissions of inquiry that circulate proposals for
reform projects for comment from agencies and interest groups (ibid., 28). The Riksdag (unicameral parliament) is generally reactive in nature, with most of its business structured by the administration of the government. The effort to resolve conflict with a minimum of controversy is perhaps best typified by the office of the ombudsman to oversee the legality of state administrationan office that dates back to early eighteenth century (ibid., 138)!
In Swedish politics a distinction is made between policy formulation and day-to-day administration. Ministers establish directives and policies to be executed by agencies. Heads of ministries are politically appointed, and the small ministries function as their staffs. The over 100 agencies are responsible to the government, not to the ministries (ibid., 114). A strong tradition of local government gives extensive powers of initiative and action to the municipal councils and to executive committees that govern at the community level.
Swedish politics is characterized by a high degree of continuity. The Social Democratic Party (SDP) has dominated politics for 40 years, relinquishing its hold only in 1976 -128; -147;82, when a nonsocialist coalition ruled. However, because the five parties that in the main compose the Swedish political system represent only a relatively modest transition from left to right, political compromise is usually possible regardless of electoral outcomes. Swedish politics is also distinguished by a high degree of organizational participation. Nonetheless, most such participation tends to be economically oriented (80 percent of the people belong to labor market-related institutions).
There is a relatively low level of political activism other than voting; day-to-day participation and communal
activity are limited in a society that relies heavily on state intervention (Olsen 1982:162). (However, data offered by Sainsbury  indicate a larger percentage of petition signers and demonstrators in Sweden than in other Western democracies in the 1970s.) Women are less participatory than men, although the 1970s saw increased activism in parties, unions, and the like among young women (ages 16 -128; -147;24) (Erikson and Aberg 1987; Eduards, Halsaa, and Skjeie 1985; Sainsbury 1983). Whether this trend has survived women's domestic responsibilities and continued into the 1980s is open to question. The society is highly institutionalized, providing limited space for different or extraparliamentary views. To the degree that woman's group exist in Sweden, they tend to be traditional rather than "liberationist" in their orientation (Eduards, Halsaa, and Skjeie 1985:135). In this political context, promotional groups play only a minor role, and feminism, or women's liberation, is viewed with suspicion by many political actors (Scott 1982:157). The society emphasizes consensus and the absence of conflict; extra-political activity beyond the parliamentary system and public sector is rarely mobilized effectively (one exception was the nuclear power controversy in the mid 1970s). As most observers agree that in Sweden everything is "already so established" that new and small groups may have difficulty gaining a hearing and access (Olsen 1982:225), it is not surprising that no significant feminist movement has developed.
The search for consensus emphasizes participatory values, but in fact opponents are encouraged to compromise and accept government ideas and limited participation in policy formulation (Kelman 1981:174). Public debate is far more limited than that in the United States;
the circle of participating groups is determined by the government. Policy formulation is conducted primarily via state commissions that include all parties and "relevant" interest groups; these commissions are the key to power and influence as the Riksdag has increasingly become relatively powerless (ibid., 261). Only a small proportion 16 percentof the commission members responsible for policy formation are women (Eduards 1986:6).
Because of the emphasis on consensus, there is little room for alternative recommendations (Olsen 1982:164). The Riksdag acts on legislation whose passage is already assured. Perhaps even more than in Britain, the parliament's primary legislative function appears to be debate, not decision-making. Informal contacts between governmental leaders and organizations are a vital part of the system; personal contacts between such leaders, who constitute a relatively small elite (numbering several hundred, and based in Stockholm), dominate policy-making (ibid., 261; Kelman 1981:258).
With regard to values and social change, however, Sweden is among the most "advanced" nations in the world. In 1976, one of every two marriages ended in divorce (ranking Sweden just slightly behind the United States, the world leader in broken marriages), and oneparent families were two of every nine, or 18 percent, double the figure in the United Kingdom (Popenoe 1985-86; Scott 1982:70). Out-of-wedlock births are common (45 percent) and relatively unstigmatized because children of nonmarried parents have rights equal to those of all others. One-third of households involve a single person only (Popenoe 1986:10), and the percentage of nonmarried cohabitees is the highest in the world21 percent in 1983 (ibid., 8; Eduards 1986:12), whereas it was only 2.5 percent in Britain.
The percentage of women in higher education is almost equal to that of men, in contrast to Britain (Ruggie 1986:24), although at the postgraduate level their numbers drop significantly (Equality Ministry 1985). Swedish women tend to refrain from long-term education choices, diminishing their career alternatives (Mellstrom and Sterner 1980).
Work-related norms appear strong for women and men: a survey conducted at the end of the 1970s revealed that only 10 percent of Swedish women preferred domesticity to a life combining work and home (Scott 1982:41). Labor force participation by women is extremely highin 1980 it was about 80 percent (Ruggie 1986:35). Most Swedish women work part-time; only 23 percent of women worked continuously at full-time jobs from 1978 to 1980 (Qvist, Acker, and Lorwin 1984:275). In addition, occupational sex segregation in Sweden is among the highest in the industrialized world. Sweden and Britain demonstrate the highest proportion of sex segregation in OECD countries82 percent and 76 percent, respectively, of women are found in sex-segregated occupations as employees of the welfare state (Rein 1985:44).
The Swedish unemployment rate is comparatively low, for women as well as men (2.7 percent, whereas it is 9.6 percent in Britain) (Equality Ministry 1985:10). More than half of women are employed by the public sector, primarily in local communities, where they are concentrated in the health and social services (Rein 1985:42; Qvist, Acker, and Lorwin 1984:276). Since 90 percent of blue-collar workers and 75 percent of white-collar workers belong to labor unions, women have joined them as well.
Female membership in the Landsorganisationen (LO), Sweden's dominant (blue-collar) trade union, increased
from 7 percent in 1945 to 40 percent in the 1980s, but, as in Britain and the United States, the growth in female labor union membership has come primarily in the white-collar sector. Hence, other unions, such as the Central Organization of Salaried Employees (TCO), which represents most salaried workers, and the Swedish Confederation of Professional Organizations (SACO/SR), which represents professional groups, have the largest female presence. Women currently comprise over half the membership of the TCO and 35 percent of the SACO/SR (Ruggie 1986:9; Qvist, Acker, and Lorwin 1984:18; Hernes and Hanninen-Salmelin 1985:123).
Data on full-time, year-round employees in Sweden demonstrate a higher ration of women's pay as a proportion of men's (80.5 percent) than in either Britain or the United States. Although Sylvia Hewlett (1986:99) has argued that Sweden is the country with the smallest male/female wage gap, the assertion is true only if the large number of part-time female workers in Sweden is ignored. The percentage of women employed part-time has increased steadily since 1968from 42 to 52 percent of employed women (in contrast to 23 percent in the United States) (Sundstrom 1985:52). Because so many Swedish women work part-time, the high male/ female wage ratio conveys less than meets the eye. While Swedish men receive 63 percent of the wages, women receive only 37 percent (Equality Ministry 1985:12). Pay differentials are not so great between the sexes at ages 20 to 24, but become accentuated thereafter, especially during the childbearing years for women. In 1980, the average income for men was almost twice that for women (Women and Men in Sweden 1985). Among women with young children (under seven), especially two or more, the proportion of women who work part-time
is 60 percent. Similarly, among women 45 to 64 with no children under 17, the part-time rate is 58 percent (Sundstrom 1985). Only among women who are childless and under 44 does the part-time employment rate drop (to 25 percent). As in the United States and Britain, part-time work results not only in male/female wage discrepancies, but also in marginalized relations with trade unions, as well as lack of mobility and of access to bonuses, overtime pay, and other rewards.
Swedish women hold relatively few high positions, especially in the private sector, where in 1978 they held only 0.2 percent of top positions in management (whereas men held 7 percent), 3 percent of senior executive positions and less than 1 percent of the jobs in public authorities and companies. They held 4 percent of senior government posts (Equality Ministry 1985:20). Both the United States and Britain have a higher percentage of women in top executive positions than does Sweden (ibid., 20). (See Chapter 6 for further discussion of this issue.)
As is the case of Britain and the United States, the effects of recession in recent years have often fallen disproportionately on female workers, who are often public-sector employees with marginal jobs.
The history of policy regarding women in Sweden early demonstrated tendencies still present today, as is true for other nations. 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 (Adams and Winston 1980:113)all in the absence of an organized movement. Similarly, the struggle for women's
suffrage was tied to universal suffrage. A National Association for Women's Suffrage, comprised largely of Social Democratic women, existed but pursued its course with a minimum of protest. Subsequently, suffrage came to be included on the agenda of the major political parties, and the struggle was conducted primarily in them. In the main, feminism was incorporated into the structure of political parties, creating a relationship that still persists (ibid., 115 -128; -147;16).
As in Britain, women's unions were established in the late 1800s and early 1900s. In the 1930s and 1940s the female trade unions merged with newly created white-collar federations to form the TCO and the Swedish Confederation of Professional Organizations (SACO/SR) (Qvist, Acker, and Lorwin 1984:262).
Unlike the case in Britain or the United States, a women's liberation movement has existed in only a minimal way in Sweden. Although a relatively militant Group 8 was created in the 1960s, it has never developed into a strong and coherent feminist movement with major influence in Swedish politics. Most feminists were more concerned with class than with gender (Eduards 1981:224), and the struggle for women's liberation was conducted primarily within parties and other political institutions. Militant feminism was unacceptable in a consensus-oriented society. In Sweden, neither alternative political structures nor consciousness-raising for individualsboth so important in the development of the British and American movementswere ever viewed as significant except among a few activists (Adams and Winston 1980:38).
However, the women's liberation movement in Sweden ought not to be entirely discounted. Founded in
1968, Group 8 had about 1,000 members. It was responsible for creating a sense of political activism, especially during the 1970s. Although feminism is generally viewed as "un-Swedish," the activists did influence people's attitudes through media coverage and the subsequent hiring of feminist columnists and writers by the two major newspapers, Dagens Nyheter and Svenska Dagbladet . The movement sponsored women's houses in several Swedish cities and operated on the basis of small decentralized groupsnever more than ten members (interview, Sangregorio 1985). Although the Group 8 barely exists today, a magazine, Kvinnobulletinen , is published monthly, with a circulation of 3,000 to 4,000 (ibid.).
In comparison with the situation in Britain and the United States, cultural and theoretical feminism have never become a strong force in Sweden, nor have new approaches to service delivery for women, such as rape crisis centers, ever gained adherents. Nonetheless, as we shall see, there has been political activity regarding rape and a movement to create shelters for female victims of domestic violence. Consider this interesting commentary on the current status of the women's liberation movement: When this interviewer asked her numerous interviewees about the existence of a women's center in the Stockholm area, she was repeatedly told, "I think there is one but I don't know where." In fact, a women's center and bookstore/informational center, Kvinnocentrum, has existed in the center of Stockholm, operated by two women, since 1975. Several other "women's houses" in the Stockholm area combine shelters with other feminist-oriented activities. But the most successful tend to be the least overtly "women's liberationist"
and are funded by the local municipality and dominant party organizations. Nonetheless, annually, on March 8, numerous women's groups come together to celebrate International Women's Day. A study in Orebro found that the ideas of the women's liberation movement have had an impact on local legislators by increasing the number of women politicians, making them aware of the importance of gender-based concerns, and helping them structure the content of political debateif not the political agendain a more feminist way (Hedlund and van der Ros Schive 1984).
Another approach to feminism is demonstrated by the Fredrika Bremer League, a women's rights organization (or liberal feminist group) created in 1884. In 1985 it claimed a membership of 6,000 (down from a high of 9,000) in local chapters seeking to increase the representation of women in party leadership and public life as well as engaging in networking (interview, Olafsson 1986). The league played a particularly vigorous role during 1976 -128; -147;82 when Birgitta Wistrand, a forceful and dynamic leader, was its president.
Despite the relatively limited influence of the league, it has apparently seemed threatening to many Swedes, including ministers of government and LO leaders who accused Birgitta Wistrand of being too aggressive and working for the "wrong" type of woman (Scott 1982:162). Other Swedes portray the league as "bourgeois" and "bluestocking," in an effort to pejoratively place it beyond the acceptable political pale. In Swedish, unlike American society and politics, individual change is viewed as less important than structural and societal change (ibid., 137).
Although traditional women's organizations "have demonstrated a higher level of activity vis-Ã -vis the authorities
than the new women's movement," the 1981 disbanding of the Swedish National council of Women's Organizations suggests a relatively limited base of activities for such groups in Sweden. The council had only ten member groups during its existence, a smaller number than in any other Nordic country (Eduards, Halsaa, and Skjeie 1985:135; Dahlerup and Gulli 1985:14).
In examining the role of Swedish women in political parties and unions, it seems inescapable that they have been more effective working via the parties than working in the unions. Although the structure of women's activities within the parties differs and women's issues are undoubtedly not in the forefront of party leaders' concerns, both in the Social Democratic Party (primarily in the 1960s when the sex role debate was first aired in Sweden) and in the more centrist parties since then, women have achieved a degree of influence.
As in Britain, women's sections in the parties have usually played a secondary role. However, in Sweden all the major parties support increased women's representation (Eduards 1986:4; Hedlund and van der Ros Schive 1984:27).
Table 6 shows that representation of women at various levels of party organization has grown dramatically (although least at the top decision-making level). Nonetheless, virtually all the women party leaders interviewed felt that the concerns of women are often ignored and viewed as secondary by male party leaders. Women leaders of the SDP perceived the Liberal and Center parties as more interested in women than their own, dominant party (interview, Peanberg, 1986). The
Representation of Women in Swedish Political Parties, 1982
|Members||Congress||Representative Assembly||Executive Board||Working Committee|
Haavio-Mannila et al. 1985: Table 3.2, p. 45.|
*Data for 1981.
LO, linked historically to the Social Democrats, was seen as having a far more important role in the party than the women's organization. The members of the VPK, though lacking a women's section, often express views most sympathetic to a feminist perspective, particularly as reflected in 1985 data (Holmberg 1986).
Dahlerup's objectives for women's party organizations include cooperation with corresponding parties abroad. Although that may be an important goal, we will expand this idea to include collaboration among domestic political parties. Greater cooperation among the women in the five major Swedish parties in national politics has been evident. In an innovative effort in 1979, women from these parties joined together to demand increased representation. Other efforts followed in the 1980s and discussions across party lines have continued (Eduards 1981:223). Such efforts at cross-party discussions have no parallel in the more divisive and ideological politics of Britain. Meetings have been held in the Riksdag, occasionally resulting in joint policy on issues relatively insignificant to the respective parties (e.g., cliterodectomy among immigrant women). Joint demonstrations have also been directed toward reforms related to women, sometimes generated via women's leagues within the parties themselves.
In the SDP the National Federation of Social Democratic women (SSKF), founded in the 1880s, played a crucial role in bringing the issue of sex equality to the fore in the 1960s (in the 1950s it was especially active in opposing nuclear weapons) (Dahlerup and Gulli 1985:6). A study group formed in 1960 produced a set of policy proposals regarding day care and sex role equality that was later incorporated into the 1969 party programs. More recently, the SSKF has generated internal
debate and formulated programs related to women's concerns. Particularly in the 1970s, Social Democratic women were prominent in raising issues concerning the future of nuclear power in Sweden. But, partly as a result of dissension among younger feminists, the membership of the SSKF fell from 68,000 in the 1960s to 45,000 in 1974 (Eduards 1981:221). The federation is affiliated to the party, giving it only consultative status (similar to the situation of the British women's sections described in Chapter 3). In the SDP, sexual equality is subordinated to (or seen within the context of) class equality (Scott 1982:61). Although the SDP has called for increased representation for women at all levels, neither abortion nor affirmative action has ever become an important policy issue (Kelman 1981:29). The SDP has demonstrated an ability to suck up all new movements of opinion and incorporate them into the party apparatus, and feminism has been no exception (ibid., 28).
All parliamentary parties adhere to the 60/40 principle: neither sex is to have more than 60 percent nor less than 40 percent of representation within party ranks. Nonetheless, some parties have been especially active in recruiting and nominating women; since the 1970s the Center Party (CKFthe agrarian party) has consistently returned the most women to the Riksdag (except in 1985, when the Liberal Party had 39 percent women, the SDP 34 percent, and the Center Party 33 percent) (Eduards 1986:4 -128; -147;6).
The Center Party has the largest women's organization in Sweden, with a membership of almost 75,000 (interview, Soderstrom, 1986). (Organized in 1,691 branches, these women hold membership only in the women's section of the party.) When the former foreign minister, Karin Soder, was elected head of the party in 1986, she became the first woman president of a Swedish
political party (she has now resigned owing to illness). Members of the women's organization have seats on the Center board. Most recently, the group has advocated a policy requiring every nominating list to contain the names of women. In the last election, at least one-third of the districts complied.
In 1972, the Liberal Party (Folkpartiet, or People's Party) translated its concern for women's equality into a demand for greater female representation, requiring that a minimum of 40 percent women be on all district boards and in all party bodies. The Federation of Liberal Women, founded in 1936, has a membership of over 20,000 and has been most successful in gaining representation of women by setting a goal of at least 40 percent representation at all levels of the party (Colon 1981 -128; -147;82:26). As of 1986, this goal had all but been achieved, with 39 percent female representation in the Riksdag, 33 percent on the Stockholm City Council, and 38 percent at the county level (interview, Branting, 1986). The Left Party Communists (VPK) do not have a women's section but rather a women's committee, which issued a women's program in 1979 and whose members are sympathetic to women's liberation.
The Moderate (or Conservative) Party women's association, established in 1920, has its own membership and its members are also members of the party. With a membership of 67,000, it has moved away from a previous policy in which all women party members were automatically members of the women's section (Eduards, Halsaa, and Skjeie 1986). According to party leaders, the new policy has led to an increase in membership (interview, Haglund, 1986). The representation of women within the party at all levels has reached about 30 percent, except at the top level of the working committee, where their numbers are few. Most of the women's sections
of parties stress the training and recruitment of women as candidates, as well as the significance of women's issues, such as day care and family and labor market policy.
It appears that at least several of Dahlerup's five objectives of separate women's organizations in parties have been achieved in Swedish parties. Among these are activation of women, recruitment for top posts, and pursuance of women's policies within the party. Swedish parties, particularly in contrast to the British ones, have reacted relatively rapidly to women's demands for increased representation and can therefore be described as fairly democratic (Skard and Haavio-Mannila 1985:43). Kerstin Peanberg (interview, 1986) of the Social Democratic Women's Federation, for example, feels strongly that in the absence of the federation, there would be no national day-care policy in Sweden. While some women's sections have few powers, several derive their own support from dues as well as relying on party support, thus providing a degree of autonomy. Women politicians have often, though not always, emerged from the women's sections. One study found, for example, that 40 percent of Swedish M.P.'s used the organizational channel provided by women's organizations to advance politically (Sainsbury 1985:21 -128; -147;22). Women say that issues they first brought up in the women's organization of a party are subsequently raised at meetings of the party itself. More than half the women who have become active party members have been drawn from women's party groupings. Particularly in Stockholm, women's party organizations have mobilized to fight prostitution and pornography.
Throughout the 1960s and 1970s, the Center Party was the most active recruiter of women councilors (Sinkkonen
1985:96), but in the 1980s local representation has been similar for all parties. Because the Conservative and Liberal parties had higher female membership than the dominant SDP in 1985, although they are smaller parties, doubt is cast on the conventional wisdom that leftist parties are necessarily more sympathetic to feminist concerns. As in the United Kingdom, women still tend to be nominated for marginal seats. However, the party list system gives women a greater opportunity to gain representation than the single-member district system, especially if women are placed high on the list.
Women in Sweden have gained an unusually high degree of representation in the political system. A tremendous increase in electoral representation occurred in the 1970s, and by 1985 women constituted 31 percent of the Riksdag (ibid., 67). At the county and municipal levels women's representation has also surged since 1970; they now make up over 33 percent of county councils (up from 15 percent) and 30 percent of municipal councils (up from 14 percent) (Eduards 1986). Women's representation in high governmental positions has climbed, too; since 1982 five women have served in the 21-member cabinet.
Nonetheless, women still remain relatively isolated from leadership positions in the Riksdag and, even more importantly, in the crucial administrative sector (ibid., 7 -128; -147;8; Qvist, Acker, and Lorwin 1984:278). Moreover, they tend to be concentrated in areas associated with women's traditional societal role. Women's participation in administrative policy-making echelons is low on public commissions, which prepare policies to present to the Riksdag and play a key decision-making role. In 1983 -128; -147;84 there were only 16.8 percent women on such commissions, although this represents a 10 percent increase
from the early 1970s. At the policy-making administrative level, 10 percent of the high-level appointees were women (Eduards 1986:6, 7). Women appear to be absent from most leadership roles and their public visibility is often limited as well (Adams and Winston 1980:141). While 28 percent of standing committee memberships in the Riksdag, where the most important work tends to be done, are held by women, they are best represented in committees dealing with social welfare, insurance, and cultural affairs. Women are allotted fewer influential appointments and are particularly weak in nonelected bureaucratic roles. A recent report found that the higher up in the administrative hierarchy, the fewer women present (women held only 26 of 251 senior-rank positions in 1986) (Sinkkonen 1985:88; "Equality Between Men and Women" 1987). Even when women tend to be given responsibility in areas of traditional concerns such as education and social welfare policy, they tend to have peripheral rather than central decision-making positions (Eduards 1986:9). And, once in office, women in government have tended to support party loyalties rather than gender concerns, in keeping with the structure we have outlined. Female party leaders' attitudes resemble party dictates more than feminist views, diverging as much as or more than men's attitudes on women-related issues (Kelman 1984:19).
In local-level politics, which are particularly important in determining the scope and direction of funding priorities such as day care, city councilors who have nominal authority are less significant than the heads of administrative committees. (The local policy-making structure is a fourfold one, ranging from municipal council members to members of municipal executives, to members of local administrative committees, to heads of
administrative committees [interview, Hedlund, 1986].) Women's representation on committees rose from 1 percent in 1971 to 5 percent in 1977, although the increase was largely in committees dealing with "reproductive" rather than "productive" sectors (i.e., health and education, culture, child care and social affairs rather than technical issues and economic questions) (Sinkkonen 1985:85 -128; -147;86).[*] Thus, the pattern of isolation from power in all but limited areas is reflected in local, as well as national, politics.
Given the corporatist approach that characterizes Swedish policy-making, unions occupy a particularly significant political role. As is true for parties, unions have put their support behind equality-oriented goals, although, as is the Swedish norm, such support is forthcoming in the absence of feminist demands or a special role for women's groups (Scott 1982:53). The Swedish "sex equality" ideology that came to dominate political debate in the 1960s was bent on removing barriers that prevented women from becoming full-fledged members of the labor force (Jonung and Thordarsson 1980:109). Unions viewed women as an alternative preferable to continued use of immigrant labor (ibid., 111). Women's policy has usually been subsumed under family and labor market concerns; in the 1960s the LO transformed its women's council into a Council for Family Affairs composed of six women and five men (Scott 1982:52). The TCO in 1970 also adopted a family policy program to facilitate work force participation by both parents, through day care, parental leagues, and nontraditional
training and education for women. The LO's policy of "wage solidarity" (begun in the 1950s but first producing an impact on women's wages in the 1960s), aimed at closing the gap between higher- and lower-paid categories of workers, benefited women, most of whom were in lower-paid jobs, although women were not singled out as a special group for treatment (Ruggie 1986:5 -128; -147;6).
Yet, despite union support for women's equality in the labor force and although Swedish women constitute about 40 percent of LO membership, they are under-represented in leadership roles (Scott 1982:54). There are only a handful of women on the National Executive Committee of the LO and few on legislative bodies and collective bargaining units of the national unions, including those with a majority of women members, although some efforts at improved representation have occurred in the last decade (Qvist, Acker, and Lorwin 1984:277). Like its American and British counterparts, the white-collar TCO seems to have a greater sensitivity to women's concerns than do blue-collar unions. In 1980, women made up 57 percent of the membership and 23 percent of the Executive Board (representation at the latter level decreased from 1980 to 1986), while at the district level, their executive representation was about 20 percent (ibid.; Scott 1982:54). (See Tables 7 and 8.) As in England, women's committees have been formed (sometimes in recognition of the inadequacy of the "family" approach that has been utilized), training courses established, and equality officers appointed, but these have been created from the top down and do not represent an independent feminist force (Qvist, Acker, and Lorwin 1984:278). Although Cook and Till Ritz (1981) suggest that there have been outspoken efforts
in white-collar unions to set up women's committees, study and consciousness-raising groups, and even local-level women's caucuses, this researcher found little evidence of such activism. Equality officers lack support and resources; most do not even devote full time to their "equality" role. Among the labor unions making up the LO in 1986, only the metal workers had a full-time equality officer (interview, Carlsson, 1986). Gender-based activism seems rare in Swedish trade unions.
As a consequence and as an example of the failure to articulate a feminist perspective, there has been virtually no effort to use the Co-determination Act passed in 1977, which gives employees greater influence over the organization and content of their jobs, at the local level on behalf of women's concerns. Local unions have continued to discourage active participation by women and failed to advance women's issues through the negotiating system (Mellstrom and Sterner 1980:14). The framing of discussion about women in the guise of "equality" and "family policy" often results in failure to discuss women's issues in sexual power terms (interview, Petersson, 1986). There are in unions no autonomous women's groups that might negotiate or monitor collective agreements, nor does the union leadership seem receptive to fostering such groups.
This situation has led Hernes (1983:10) and other observers to the view that the organizations most crucial in decision-making and strategic influencethat is, those that are economically basedare even less responsive to women's power and access than electorally based ones. In such contexts, women are often powerless "policy-takers" instead of policymakers. Unlike Swedish men, Swedish women have no basis for political organization
Percentage of Women in Swedish Blue-Collar Trade Unions (LO) and Trade Union Offices, 1983
|Union||Women Members||Congressional Delegates||National Executive||Central Negotiating Board||Regional Executives|
|Sheet metal workers||None||None||None||None||None|
|Social insurance and insurance agents||71.6||37.9||30.8||20.0||39.2|
|Graphic industry employees||29.5||9.3||11.1||3.3||18.9|
|Retail and commercial employees||76.5||58.4||50.0||49.7||55.5|
(Table continued on next page)
(Table continued from previous page)
|Union||Women Members||Congressional Delegates||National Executive||Central Negotiating Board||Regional Executives|
|Hotel and restaurant workers||78.6||74.0||52.0||56.0||67.1|
|Pulp and paper workers||17.8||6.0||3.2||11.1||10.3|
|Wood industry workers||15.7||7.2||2.9||2.4||5.3|
Based on data in Landsorganisationen 1984.|
in the labor sector (ibid.). The corporate channel is thus the least participative, and the most hierarchical, oligarchical, and elitist (ibid., 7).
Given the resistance to change in the still male-dominated union structures, unions are not likely to be the major route for access to power for Swedish women (Scott 1982:55). While unions support equality in the labor market, they tend to view "class differences as greater than the differences between the sexes" (Qvist, Acker, and Lorwin 1984:278). Under these circumstances, it is not difficult to see that recognition of women's interests in party structures may have only a limited parallel in unions (Scott 1982:60). Although women have gradually been increasing their role in union offices over the past two decades, in the powerful LO with strong links to the dominant Social Democratic
Party, there has been little evidence of changed attitudes toward power and policy.
From the 1960s on, prompted by Eva Moberg's pamphlet "The Conditional Emancipation of Women," a sex-role debate was engendered and all political parties came to support equality-related policies in Sweden. As already noted, Swedish policy regarding women has been viewed as aimed at alleviating labor shortages by bringing women into the work force, with welfare and other policies directed toward this end rather than toward women's needs and concerns per se.
Eduards and her colleagues (Eduards, Halsaa, and Skjeie 1985:136) have suggested that the equality focus had a second source: economic issues so long at the core of party activity were now removed from the hands of the parties and elected representatives and placed in the administrative sector. This shift resulted in a changed relationship to societal groups and a diffusion of party divisions, giving the parties more opportunity to create a new ideological profile. Women were correctly perceived as a new source of members and voters, and the thrust toward equality policy followed accordingly. As in Britain and the United States, changing patterns of electoral politics sometimes resulted in partisan efforts to mobilize a new coalition that included women's groups.
The Swedish need for an increase in labor force participation led to a recognition of women as a large, virtually untapped labor source (Adams and Winston 1980:187). The 1960s saw the beginning of special courses
and other measures designed to induce and facilitate increased labor force participation by women as well as a debate on sex roles. First to be introduced were income tax reforms that lowered the burden on married working women by providing for separate taxation of spouses and reducing the marginal tax rate. In 1972 an Advisory Council to the Prime Minister on Equality Between Men and Women was appointed to enhance "free personal development" and alter sex roles and responsibilities (Baude 1979:151). According to Kelman (1981:28) the unusual placement of this agency in the office of the prime minister meant enhanced possibilities for close political control. In general, the council provided for experimental efforts to place women in nontraditional jobs, to shorten the workday to six hours and allow two shifts, and to provide "equality grants" for companies that train women for jobs traditionally occupied by men (Baude 1979:151). A Parliamentary Committee on Equality, appointed in 1976, continued to work on integrative policies. Thus, by the 1970s, the public discussion had turned from "sex roles" to "equality" policy.
The LO had supported efforts to reform income tax laws, day care, and parental leave (to be discussed presently). But, as in Britain, on issues of wages, hiring, and promotion the unions were reluctant to abandon their collective bargaining efforts in the interest of legislative rule-making (Qvist, Acker, and Lorwin 1984:271). Strong opposition from labor and employers was overcome only when a nonsocialist government gained power (Eduards, Halsaa, and Skjeie 1985:148). In 1976 the government enacted the first antisex discrimination act, creating an equality ombudsman and calling for affirmative action, increased representation by women on public bodies, and efforts to increase recruitment of
women in male-dominated positions (Scott 1982:32). The 1976 Equality Ordinance provided for the appointment of an Equal Opportunities Commission and a full-time equality ombudsman (the first appointee was an experienced woman judge, Inga Britt Tornell) who has the right to resolve complaints.
A 1979 Act on Equality Between Men and Women prohibited sex discrimination and required employees to work actively for equality. The act's coverage is confined to groups not covered by collective agreements, which take precedence (Eduards, Halsaa, and Skjeie 1985:146). The concept of affirmative action does not really exist operationally in Sweden because there is no timetable set for compliance with the act and because the equality ombudsman cannot override collective agreements and enforce compliance (Gustaffson 1984:146). There are no statutory sanctions if employers do not comply with the legislative enactments (of the three countries examined, only in the United States have financial sanctions been employed successfully to enforce equality laws) (Jackson 1984:199). Since 1983 a national Equality Council, comprised of party representatives, women's organizations, unions, and employers, has superseded the earlier Advisory Council (Eduards, Halsaa, and Skjeie 1985:139).
In 1977, the LO and the TCO signed equality agreements with the Swedish Employers Confederation (SAF) covering all workers in the private work force. The agreement banned all discrimination and called for equality-related measures. Cases to be settled were to go to the tripartite Labour Court. In the three years between the signing of equality agreements and 1980 when an amended version went into effect, no cases went to the Labour Court under the LO-SAF agreement. It is doubtful
that the absence of complaints signifies the absence of problems; rather, the concern about producing conflict, the lack of a feminist presence, and the unfamiliarity of this approach may limit its effectiveness (Qvist, Acker, and Lorwin 1984:272).
In a society where a tradition of special women's groups has not existed since 1900 (only local women's clubs that haven't much influence endure) (interview, Carlsson, 1986), unions appear to be reluctant to act once a complaint has been made. They are especially remiss in taking action on job recruitment, let alone wages and salaries. Originally opposed to the idea of legislation to deal with sex equality, they have never been very enthusiastic about aiding the process of compliance (interview, Wadstein, 1986).
The "equality grants" have not proven successful. Since 1980, only 693 trainees have been placed in jobs, just 1.5 percent of all trainees (Qvist, Acker, and Lorwin 1984:271 -128; -147;72). Given the small incentive, or subsidy, of 20 SEK (Swedish kronorat the current U.S. exchange rate of about 70 cents to the krona) for each trainee and the narrow range of possible occupations covered, the lack of compliance is not surprising. Another measure, part of Sweden's regional policy, which mandated gender-based quotas (40 percent women) in new firms or industries in Sweden's outlying areas, met with mixed results during 1974 -128; -147;79.
Numerous unions have set up equality committees, special training forces, and other groups directed particularly at women. Nonetheless, the results of private-sector efforts seem disappointing: in four years of subsidies to firms to hire women for male-dominated occupations, only about 1,000, or one-tenth of 1 percent, of the female labor force were hired (ibid., 270 -128; -147;71).
Under the Social Democratic government that returned to power in 1982, a Ministry for Equality and Immigration was established in the Department of Labour. Among the directives given to this new agency: change the conditions for women, change the roles of men, influence policy, and aid immigrant women (interview, Lidbeck 1986). The ministry has thus far sought to spend its rather substantial budget (15 million SEK) to promote courses for young girls to broaden their choices in order to break the pronounced pattern of occupational segregation in all areas of life. There has been little evaluation research done to assess "success," because "they are not sure how to go about it" (ibid.). As for the mandate to change men's attitudes, thus far no conclusions have been reached on how to implement it.
The equality ombudsman, Inga Britt Tornell, has received enthusiastic support from many Swedish women for her forthright activism. However, with a staff of only seven, the tasks for the ombudsman appear formidable. The tasks are 1) taking complaints to the Labour Court, 2) supervising employers, and 3) molding public opinion (interview, Wadstein, 1986). The ombudsman's office has been particularly effective with regard to the last task: four times a year it issues a report, Jamsides , and it has released over 20,000 copies of an excellent statistical and factual compendium on women in Sweden entitled Side by Side (Equality Ministry 1985). The ombudsman has even tackled the issue of women priests in the' Swedish Church, albeit unsuccessfully. The ombudsman may issue injunctions only on employment discrimination initiated by individuals, employee organizations, or by the ombudsman office itself. The office responds to about 150 complaints per year. Numerous observers, including the deputy ombudsman, point to
the difficulty of getting women to make complaints in a culture that does not value aggressive individualists. Issues of equal pay for work of equal value have thus far not moved beyond the discussion stage. The commission's work is somewhat constrained by the fact that it does not have the right to request documentation in discrimination cases in the private sector.
Only several hundred cases have come before the ombudsman, and just nine cases were taken by her to the Labour Court through 1984. The four settled at that time resulted in financial compensation, but no requirement was made for remedial action by the employer with regard to either the individual involved or the discriminatory practice (Ruggie 1984:178; Qvist, Acker, and Lorwin 1984:273). Several observers have concluded that the law establishing the ombudsman's office has few teeth and is not very effective. As Karin Andersson, the former chair of the Swedish Equality Committee, commented, "It is difficult to struggle for something on which, formally, everyone agrees" (quoted in Eduards, Halsaa, and Skjeie 1985:141). In this context, Swedish equality agencies may be seen more as channeling pressure regarding discrimination than responding to it.
No account of public policy regarding women in Sweden would be complete without a discussion of related social policies. In 1976 an abortion act was passed that gives women the right to abortion on request up to the eighteenth week of pregnancy, largely a ratification of practices already common. (After the twelfth week a special investigation is held to judge the risks; after the eighteenth week the abortion may be granted only by
the Board of Health.) This policy was not widely perceived as a women's issue; rather, debate centered on the social and economic costs of unwanted children.
As early as 1945, Swedish women were entitled to six months' maternity leavewithout pay. In 1974 the well-known parental insurance law was passed that gave fathers as well as mothers the right to paid leave of absence following birth of a child. The benefit was roughly equivalent to 90 percent of lost income for seven months (Baude 1979:158). In 1978, the period for parental leave was extended to nine months. In practice, women still use the parental leave provisions most frequently. In 1976 the number of fathers exercising their right to stay home was 10 percent; the number has never been higher than 12 percent (ibid., 170; Qvist, Acker, and Lorwin 1984:270). Men may also take 15 days of leave at the time of a child's birth. Either parent may also take paid sick leave of up to 60 days a year to care for a sick child. Men who take such leave do so only for a few days, whereas women are more likely to extend their periods of absence (Jonung and Thordarsson 1980:133).
Day care, long a concern of the LO in the interest of increasing female labor force participation, was endorsed by the Riksdag in the 1970s. Efforts to increase, by 1980, the number of places available for children during and after school care were intended to further the goal of providing publicly supported day care for the children of all parents who work through a system of state subsidies (Baude 1979:161). The actual increase fell short of the goal. A new goal of 100 percent of day-care places has been set for 1991. No plan for implementing this new stage of expansion to meet demand has yet been presented. At the time of this writing, the number of day-care places still lags far behind the necessary
numbers, especially considering the high number of women in the labor force; about 60 percent of the children from one to five are housed in community-supported family day-care homes or public day-care centers ("Child Care Programs in Sweden" 1984). Nonetheless, available day-care places have risen rapidly since 1966, when the policy was initiated, and programs are well staffed and regulated, in contrast to their British and American counterparts.
The Swedish tradition of public education is unlike that of most of Western Europe and of the United States in that children do not begin school until the age of seven, and even at that time school hours are limited. This situation exacerbates the problem of finding day-care places for a larger population. Children from ages seven to 12 who require after-school care are usually unable to obtain it (only 17 percent were in public facilities in the mid-1980s). Because the extent of day care in a given community depends largely on local initiatives, the variance between rural and urban availability may be great.
Since 1979, parents of children under eight may work a six-hour day, at a reduced salary; they may remain at home full-time with a child up to one and a half years old. Child minders are available for sick children (although they may exist more in principle than in reality, as one professional woman remarked that they are often available only after the children are well) and even on weekends, a particularly thoughtful aspect of the Swedish social policy for single parents. Single-parent families are given higher maintenance subsidies than two parent families; unlike the situation in the United States, there are few social or economic stigmas attached to divorce or out-of-wedlock births (Boneparth 1984:135).
The state makes direct payments to all families with children in the form of generous child allowances, housing subsidies, and advance payments on maintenance allowances (Wistrand 1982:21). This last form of aid means that in effect the state has taken over the burden of child support from absent fathers and shores up single-parent families.
Two other issues related to public policy and women also relate to sexual politics: rape and domestic violence.
Rape has not been publicly perceived as a major problem in Sweden, a nation in which crimes of violence seem rare. This attitude has been one explanation for the absence of a rape crisis movement in Sweden. Nonetheless, the incidence of rape annually is about 10,000 reported cases, the number having risen steeply with a greater willingness to file charges (Equality Ministry 1985:74). In 1976 the women's organizations of all the major parties as well as numerous other women's groups protested a proposed change in the rape law that would have permitted the courts to take into account the previous sexual behavior of the victim. The outcry and pressure of this all-party women's effort were sufficiently strong to lead to the creation of a new commission to rewrite the law. As of 1984, a new law was passed entitling women suffering assault to have someone with them during legal proceedings. The prior sexual behavior of the victim is not to be taken into account, nor is the victim's relationship to the offender. Legal aid for victims is now possible in some cases and is likely to be expanded in the future (ibid.).
The issue of domestic violence attracted belated (in
comparison with the issue in the United States and Britain) but intense interest in Sweden primarily in the 1980s. In 1978, the first Woman's House under the auspices of a feminist group in GÃ¶teborg (Gothenburg), combining a shelter with other activities, was opened. Elsewhere, as in Orebro, the community was responsible for funding a crisis center. It appears that more avowedly feminist groups have sometimes had difficulty obtaining funding from their local councils; nonetheless, about a hundred shelters exist today in Sweden (interview, Hedlund, 1986). Because Sweden lacks both a philanthropic and a voluntary action tradition and citizens expect the state to assume responsibility for all social services and needs, the likelihood of an independent shelter movement enduring is limited. Funding is sometimes forthcoming at the municipal level, and the National Organization for Women's Shelters (RUKS) has been established. This new organization is entitled to special funding of about 100,000 SEK annually from a special government fund created for women's groups (interview, Ohnfelt, 1986). Wife beating has been open to public prosecution only since 1982. At that time the law was amended so that the victimized woman herself did not have to prefer charges against the man or plead in court. Domestic assault had formerly been indictable only by information, meaning that no charges could be filed unless the woman herself reported them. The change means that a neighbor or police officer can prefer charges, the upshot being an increase in the number of complaints filed (Equality Ministry 1985:73).
Although the shelter movement initially was feminist in impetus, and marks a rare case of public acceptance, as in the United States today its influences are mixed (interview, Boye, 1986). Shelter employees are paid and view their work as a job just like any other. National action
on battered women has been followed by a report undertaken by the Social Services Department of the government. However, statistics on the actual incidence of domestic violence are exceedingly difficult to obtain. The treatment of offending males seems to have taken a somewhat different turn in Sweden than in the United Kingdom and, especially, the United States. In the main, punishment, other than short jail sentences, is often eschewed in favor of providing therapeutic treatment for men. A men's shelter has even been formed in GÃ¶teborg to provide support for troubled men. Hence, the Swedish approach stresses rehabilitation rather than punitive treatment, with offenders also seen as "victims" (Equality Ministry 1985:75). As of March 1985, the Swedish government decided to award grants to encourage shelters to develop their activities further.
In Sweden, women's organizations have little impact either on public authorities or on public policy per se (Hernes and Hanninen-Salmelin 1985:108). Gender is not seen as an explicitly deliberate or legitimate dimension of politics in Scandinavia (Hernes 1984:39) despite the presence of a large number of women in legislative politics.
Swedish women (the "daughters of the welfare state") (Eduards 1986:15) appear to have many of the demands of their feminist sisters elsewhere taken care of by the state and political system, yet their concerns seem to be almost obscured by the efforts to reach equality that are, in the main, not the result of their own efforts. In 1973, Rita Liljjestrom (quoted in Scott 1982:157) wrote that if women are to achieve collective liberation, they "need to rally around a community of values, around a
program which roots them in shared experiences, and which gives them political identity for 'sisterhood' and an alternative value system to keep them from being devoured by equality under the terms set by the male value system." This course has not been followed in Sweden, nor has there been a public dialogue on women's issues conducted by women on their terms. As Baude (1979), among others, points out, women's liberation and feminism have been viewed as confrontational and "anti-Swedish."
There is limited room for experimentation and grass-roots efforts in a society in which all is encompassed by the state. Hence, issues like rape, wife battering, and other aspects of male power, violence, and domination have only begun to be raised in this society so devoted to the establishment of equality in a sex-neutral fashion. Nonetheless, even when grass-roots level efforts are madefor example, to develop female-operated refuges for battered womenthey are soon incorporated by the state. As Cheri Register (quoted in Eduards, Halsaa, and Skjeie 1985:159) puts it,
When conflicts have arisen in Sweden and demands are put forth by different groups, they must be swallowed quickly by the all-encompassing Social Democracy. Social Democracy must show without delay that it is also capable of coping with the new demands emanating from women. In other words, the special interests of women have been subordinated to the general good, the definition of which still lies in the hands of men -128;¦. Reforms can also be considered as a preventive measureone which is necessary to divert more radical demands and conflicts which could lead to a more serious split.
In this type of system, significant issues regarding male-female relations and power are rarely seriously discussed as topics of public debate. Autonomous women's organizations are viewed as suspect, and women are deterred from shaping policy on their own terms. While today some activity around single-issue feminist concerns exists, there is little evidence of the past dynamic efforts made by women, especially in political parties in the 1960s and 1970s.
There can be no doubt that Sweden's social support system, especially for single-female heads of families and for all women in the labor force, is superior and perhaps without equal in the Western world. (The one exception is day care, which is still inadequate and lags far behind the near-universal Ã©coles maternelles system provided by the French government, which seeks to respond to the educational and personal needs of each child.) Nevertheless, it should be recalled that welfare, however progressive, is not synonymous with power and the ability to shape one's own status (Hernes 1984:32 -128; -147;33). "Qualitative" gender issues, unrelated to economic concerns, have been neglected in a system that defines equality almost exclusively in economic terms (Kesselman and Krieger 1987:528).
Because the rhetoric of equality has been widely accepted in Sweden, it is difficult to move beyond it to new approaches. Women are objects of state welfare policies that they have had only a limited role in shaping. There is need for greater scope for the articulation of women's interests, which may result in a more truly egalitarian society. (Eduards [1986:15] makes a similar point.) However, it is especially difficult to organize effectively in a society in which everything has been organized and
in which the expectation that society will care for all needs animates most social endeavor (interview, Dahlberg, 1986). Against this backdrop, efforts by women at the grass roots to stress some feminist concerns have been noteworthy, though often short-lived. The emphasis on the need for organization is, of course, particularly incongruent with feminist notions of participation and structure, making the route of radical feminism especially problematic in Sweden.
Sweden's most unique contribution is the effort to change women's status by addressing inequality for men and women alike. An equal-opportunities mentality pervades society and policy-making; the emphasis on sex neutrality coupled with cooperation has produced a system in which women's issues are no longer perceived as a problem and are almost wholly integrated into family and social policy (Hernes 1982:7). Nonetheless, thus far equality has been defined exclusively in male terms. As most Swedish women interviewed for this study agreed, gender-neutral policies in a society still highly stratified by gender end up by benefiting the already powerfulthat is, males. That Swedish women have far outnumbered men in the degree to which they wish to use ad hoc political activity (39 to 6 percent, respectively) suggests how poorly they feel themselves to be integrated into the political structure. This is one area of Swedish politics in which women constitute a plurality (Peterson 1984:12)!
We are left with the view that "society does not change just because laws do" (Gold 1977:11), that rule-making may be insufficient in the absence of grass-roots organizations to aid in carrying out the rules. Even policy on sex neutrality has been framed in the guise of recommendation,
not dictates, making compliance exceedingly difficult (Eduards 1986:15).
Although Swedish policies are held up as models for women in other nations, they have also demonstrated the intransigence of problems of sexual inequality and the possible limits of a system structured so totally around consensus. The labor market remains highly segregated, with women concentrated in low-paying, low-status jobs to an ever greater degree than in other nations (UNESCO 1983:30). Income differentials, though narrowed, remain significant, and close to 50 percent of Swedish women are primarily part-time workers in the labor force. The acceptance of part-time work by most women locks them into traditional family roles and creates few opportunities for pursuit of serious careers, especially in terms of training and promotion. The problem appears to lie in the failure to address the sexual division of labor in the home and in the workplace, partially because women's issues have rarely been raised as a concern apart from economic and labor market considerations. The division of labor reflected in the home, in a society still wed to many traditional values regarding sexual roles, is reflected in the larger political and economic society as well, as the marginal position of women in these sectors suggests. Sex segregation continues to exist not only in the labor force but also in the political roles to which women are limited, thus preventing them from advancing into meaningful careers. The anti-individualist rhetoric of Swedish socialism has in this instance kept women in their place.
The Swedish experience suggests that even benevolent state efforts to integrate women into existing political and economic structures may be insufficient in the
attainment of role transformation if they are not accompanied by other changes as well. It has been the contention of this chapter that, coupled with the widespread acceptance of the ideology of gender equality, if not its practice, the absence of independent women's organizations that generate debate regarding sex roles and power in society may be crucial. Despite the real success of many of the highly institutionalized Swedish efforts to eradicate gender inequality, the system appears to have reached an impasse.