“Believe in your damn self” – International Women’s Day 2017

Days such as today, the International Women’s Day, should come not only once per year. Or, the meaning carried by it, at least, should be a continuous and persistent engine capable of awakening men, women and other genders, and making them question the level of equality and justice reached by modern society.

Sweden is a well-known feminist country, where the word ‘feminist’ could be seen such as a synonym of ‘gender equality’. Just to mention few facts regarding the Swedish history in that respect, we may recall that in 1947 Karin Kock was the first woman in government, and few years later, in 1955, three months’ paid maternity leave for working women were established; in 1970 the world saw the first woman holding a high position at the UN (United Nations): Alva Myrdal. In 1974, paternity leave took over the social leading role held by the maternity leave (however, the paternity leave has been recently updated).

One may think that, probably, such an International Day could be important, but in the same time not having a high and wide appeal in Sweden; all in all, there are so many countries where women’s rights are daily trampled on and overcome, aren’t they?


Sweden is one of the top-countries when it comes to safety and to gender equality rights.

Source: government.se

Last but not least, the Scandinavian country is one of the leading nations standing up for human rights in the world.

Many important steps and goals have been achieved, yet many things must be done. When it comes for instance to the economic equality, there’s still a pay gap of 13.2 per cent between monthly salaries earned by men and women. The reasons why this happens can be related to different factors, such as profession, age, work experience. However, the gender issue seems to be still manifest. The Swedish Discrimination Act promotes the equality between employees, and a direct action especially by the employers. Still, it could not be enough. Within this kind of social environment, an action by some movements is required: movements fighting and standing for women’s rights. How not to mention the movement called “15:57”. Supported by women’s unions and other social actors, the 15:57 movement has a clear goal: bridge the 13.2 per cent pay gap, because this means, technically speaking, that women work without receiving any payment starting from 15:57 in a normal working day of eight hours until 17:00.

There are other kinds of movements too, fighting against the stereotypical power assigned by the Western society to masculinity. One of this is known as Macho i Kollektivtrafiken” (“Macho in Public Transport”), which tries to open women’s eyes when it comes to taking public transportation, and spotting men who claim more space than physically needed: this has been seen as an unconscious and daily form of power within the boundaries of the public space.

Recently, another interesting initiative has been taken by the Swedish Football Association. Particularly, they targeted the women’s team, which is noticeably one of the strongest in the world. The association had in mind one clear thing, still so powerful and compelling: engaging and involving young women to believe that every goal can be reached, bearing well in mind that the key is to believe as much as possible in themselves. The initiative has featured the players of the women’s team: on the back of their football shirts, some inspirational Twitter messages by very important women in the world took over their names.

Lisa Dahlkvist, more than 90 caps for the national team. Source: The Guardian

Now it’s your turn. What do you think about the word ‘feminism’? And, just below, you find another interactive tool: an interesting graphic created by our Study in Sweden Facebook team. Have a look, and thanks for reading!  

Main sources:




Featured image: Sveriges Kvinnolobby/15:57

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An Italian student attending a Master in Communication at the University of Gothenburg. Email me at francescobarbati (at) gmail.com if you have any doubts or if you are simply curious about Swedish life for students.
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