The 50:50 Government

Marlyn Glen

5 October 2014

Sweden's newly-elected Prime Minister has described his newly-formed Red-Green Left-of-Centre minority government as a "feminist government".

Stefan Löfven's Cabinet sees 24 posts being shared equally amongst men and women.

Mr. Lofven said ,

"Inhibitory gender roles and structures must be combated.

"Women and men shall have the same power to shape society and their own lives.

"Only then can our society and every individual reach their full potential."

Women hold the portfolios for major offices of state e.g. Foreign Secretary, Finance Minister.

The Deputy Prime Minister is the female leader of the Greens, and women are in charge of a wide-range of departments from Climate and  Environment; Employment; Culture; and Higher Education; to Social Insurance; Foreign Aid; Equality, Children, and the Elderly,

The formation of this new government featuring more women in politically significant, national decision-making roles comes at a time when Sweden already enjoys one of the highest proportion of women in political office in the world at 45 per cent.

Only Rwanda, Andorra and Cuba rank higher.

How does having women in government improve government ?

Generally , it ensures that issues which women focus on e.g. the importance of child care, health, education, care of the elderly, and the gender pay gap  are given their proper place in the political priorities of a society where women make up the majority.

Specifically, it ensures that women are in positions of executive authority to direct resources to these priorities.

The style of government generally changes where women attempt to built consensus instead of generating confrontation.

Nancy Pelosi, the former Speaker of the US Congress,  said of politics,

"If you increase the level of civility, you’ll have more women elected to public office."

Engaging more women in political decison-making is necessary to maintain representative politics.

That is what the Swedish government has done, and they offer good international support for the goals of our own Scottish campaign Women 50:50 which  was launched recently by Labour MSP Kezia Dugdale and Green MSP Alison Johnstone seeking 50% women representation in the Scottish Parliament, and in councils and on public boards in Scotland. 

(click on the image below to visit the  50:50 website)

The composition of the new Swedish government is a most welcome affirmation of what women can achieve at the highest ranks of elected office, and a guarantee that the concerns of women and equality will be on the highest political agendas, alongside women's perspectives on all matters of state.


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