One of the very first thing things I noticed when I arrived in Sweden is the equality that surrounds citizens. Men and Women are all entitled to the same benefits and taxation by the government. Both, men and women are entitled to the same amount of parental leave and family life is not deemed the mother’s responsibility.
Automatically, this gender equal society rubbed off on me. A progressive society that functions so well based on their underlying gender mainstreaming ideology combined with social welfare.
In Sweden, Everyone, regardless of gender, has the right to work and support themselves, to balance career and family life, and to live without the fear of abuse or violence.
Now if you would have told me this before my semester abroad, I would have been a cynic claiming that this utopian lifestyle is impossible to practice and maintain. However, a semester at Uppsala University has proved to me that Sweden’s society and cultural attitude towards women and equality is ideal.
Sweden’s gender equal practices are even incorporated into student life and whilst on my semester abroad, Global studies enabled me to study gender related courses. These courses all underpinned Sweden’s parliament, the Riksdag and its gender mainstreaming approach to all laws passed.
A semester abroad at Uppsala University in Sweden has completely changed my views towards social states. Swedish citizens and the Riksdag’s ability to encourage equality and a good lifestyle proved to me that societies can function regardless of gender stereotypes.
At my first Swedish lesson, the opening discussion was about the notion of respect with the lecturer showing us the Swedish Discrimination Act. It states:
“Ingen person får diskrimineras eller förhindras från att utöva sina rättigheter på grund av”
no person may be discriminated against or prevented from exercising their rights on grounds of “I kön, transgenderidentitet eller uttryck, etnicitet, religion eller annan tro, funktionshinder, sexuell läggning eller ålder.”
gender, transgender identity or expression, ethnicity, religion or other belief, disability, sexual orientation or age.
This anti- discrimination act really reinforces all elements of Swedish society and is the key to Swedish culture. This Swedish ethos acts as a catalyst for anti- discrimination and equality worldwide and by me seeing this way of life first hand, it has opened my eyes to the inequalities others experience throughout the world.
I feel so lucky to have been given the opportunity to live and study in a country where equality is of the utmost importance. I believe so many could learn from the culture in Sweden and since returning home, I have constantly tried to advocate for more equal practices.
“There exists no ‘they and we’ only ‘us’. Solidarity is and has to be indivisible” – Olof Palme (Prime Minister of Sweden, 1969- 1986)
States around the world could embrace Sweden’s practices and culture in order to ensure equality amongst the sexes.
Ever since returning home, I have begun to advocate for Sweden’s ideals as everyone around the world should be entitled to the same freedom’s presented by Sweden’s culture.
Seeing and living first hand in a country dedicated to gender equality, I feel so lucky to have been given this opportunity to immerse myself in a new country.