Everyone’s right to travel well through life is the point of departure for Feministiskt initiativ.
Freedom from violence and discrimination, and everyone’s right to welfare and culture are corner stones in a democratic society. This view on welfare opposes the idea that work is an end in itself and that people need to be disciplined into working – regardless of the content, meaning and usefulness of the work performed. Our idea of welfare aims, conversely, to enable participation and solidarity and to create the space needed to allow us to grow as human beings, through culture and meaningful interaction. The education system has an important democratic role to play in terms of fostering equality, by leveling the playing field and thus compensating for the unequal life chances created by our belonging to different social classes. Welfare should be viewed not as a safety net, but rather as a tool, with which a democratic society can be built. Human rights, ecological and social sustainability should take precedence over economic interests.
Equality is not just about economics. It also involves being able to participate and feel reflected in the cultural, political and economic spheres. Every person should have the right to make decisions about their own body. Society needs to be accessible to all, regardless of ability. Equality is also about freedom from violence, being able to love who you love, to present yourself in the way that you choose and to believe in what you want, without fear of threats and discrimination.
A broad and inclusive anti-racist feminism is the answer to the ecological, economic, social and security-related political challenges we are facing. We strive to be a force that can channel visions of a different development trajectory – in Sweden as well as globally. Bringing more feminists into the halls of power will lead to greater political responsibility with regards to the role that Sweden plays in a global order characterized by rich countries profiting on poor ones and where there is overconsumption of natural resources.
We need a new political force in parliament, which challenges existing ideologies. Discrimination, sexism and racism are not derived from class oppression and capitalism. These social ills can be enhanced by these structures, but will not necessarily disappear in a socialist society. Neither can liberalism, with its focus on individual rights, sufficiently address structural inequality. Wage discrimination exists in all wage categories. Men’s violence against women, other men, and LGBTQ persons, exists in all social classes. Compared to other countries, Sweden is notable for having a larger proportion of people born outside of Europe as well as their children being excluded from the labour market and living in poverty. Discrimination of people with different abilities is a barrier to participation and influence. Children, youth and the elderly are marginalized based on ageism where society’s norms are centered on middle-age.
For all of these reasons, an ideologically independent feminist party is needed.
The political landscape 2014
Fascism and nationalism are always accompanied by limitations of the rights of women and LGBTQ persons. With growing fascism we are also seeing a strengthening of the anti-racist and feminist movement. While a political path leading to increasing inequality had been charted prior to the current government, eight years of bourgeois politics by the current four party alliance has made it clear that a different development trajectory is urgently needed. People who have steady jobs, whose health is good, who do not live with disabilities, who have stable housing and who do not risk having their Swedish identity questioned may not have noticed the changes brought about by the current politics and the entry of a fascist party into the halls of power. What we see is how all of us who do not fit into the very narrow norm are being negatively affected.
The parties in parliament have united around national goals for gender equality, but the political direction needed to reach them is lacking. The value of women’s work is less than that of men’s, women shoulder more of the unpaid domestic, reproductive and care work, are more likely to be working part-time involuntarily, and are overrepresented among those having precarious forms of employment. Women born outside the country have the lowest salaries, more precarious forms of employment and inferior working conditions. The gender related income inequalities are entrenched since decades, despite official rhetoric of gender equality. The gap between men’s and women’s wages is widening and gender- and social inequality is increasing.
We are seeing how the government is unable to prioritize for the good of the whole society and for future generations. We are seeing a welfare system being exploited by private profit motives, and an increasingly segregated school system, accelerating the development towards growing inequality. We are also seeing how society is failing children who are faring ill, galloping youth unemployment, and an acute unmet housing need. We are seeing inadequate maintenance of the railroads, Sweden is failing to take responsibility for reaching climate mitigation goals, and meat consumption is increasing. Moreover we are seeing maltreatment of the elderly and every second woman in today’s Sweden retires into poverty. We are concerned about the limitations of the rights to support and service for people with different abilities, increasing racism and hate crimes, and women’s shelters having to close down due to increasing demand in combination with shrinking resources.
Ours is a world characterized by profound injustice. People fleeing their homes are dying as they strive for a life in dignity. Among those who do make it to Sweden, many are deported, others are hiding without identification documents, facing police persecution and imprisonment in holding cells, despite having committed no crime. What we need is a view of security that is freed from nationalism. Men’s violence against women is a global pandemic and the real security threat facing Sweden. LGBTQ persons are facing discrimination and hate crimes. We are raising the level of ambition in the struggle against violence and for every person’s right to protection.
Sweden can afford it. As a developed democracy that has not seen war on its territory during the last two centuries and that, in international comparisons, still has a robust welfare system coupled with a relatively high degree of interpersonal trust, the necessary preconditions exist to tackle the challenges we are facing. While we are standing for elections based on our own political program, we see opportunities for cooperation with several others. Alongside feminists in other parties we intend to pursue politics that stand for gender equality and the equal rights of all persons regardless of sex, skin colour, ethnicity, sexuality, ability, gender identity, or religious belief. Feministiskt initiativ challenges the existing parties and through our politics we will push for a change of direction of Swedish politics in a truly feminist and anti-racist direction, with the goal of freeing Sweden and the world from discrimination.
Prioritized issues 2014
Work and the economy
An accessible labour market free from discrimination and political action for wage equality. Your name, sex or appearance should play no part in whether or not you are hired for a job. All public procurement should be undertaken in a way that actively counters discrimination. Systems for imposing sanctions against discriminatory employers will be developed and opportunities for affirmative action in the labour market with regards to people with different abilities and racialized persons will be instituted. Medlingsinstitutet (the Swedish National Mediation Office) will be given new directives to take action for wage equality, rather than continuing the current system wherein the industrial sector sets the standard for the wage structure, with other sectors trailing behind. A gender equality fund will be instituted, with the purpose of financing necessary wage increases in sectors and vocations dominated by women.
Individualized parental leave insurance schemes. The right of the child to care and participation should be the guiding principle for all political decisions concerning children. Being a parent is an individual responsibility. Children with two parents have the right to both of them. All other public insurance schemes are individual in nature and there is no reason for the parental leave insurance scheme to deviate from this principle. Gender equality is also at stake here. Women’s larger responsibility for reproductive care work and for unpaid domestic work, weakens their position in the labour market as well as their opportunities for economic independence. The right of the child to their parents and women’s rights to equality in the labour market both speak to the urgent need for individualizing the parental leave insurance scheme.
Reduced working hours. Sharing jobs is beneficial for public health, gender equality as well as the climate. Increasing economic productivity has historically led to wage increases as well as a reduction in working hours. While many people lack jobs, others are working themselves into ill health and premature retirement. Feministiskt initiativ seeks to build a society where people have regained power over their time and we will work towards a generalized reduction of working hours to a six-hour work day. In addition to allowing for recuperation, preventing stress and illness, we believe that a reduction of working hours will enable a more equal sharing of unpaid domestic work, increased social engagement, reduced unemployment, energy consumption and emissions.
Other prioritized issues concerning work and the economy are to:
- Combine the unemployment benefits, medical benefits and social security benefits into one single combined social insurance scheme with guaranteed minimum levels of remuneration. No one should fall through the net in the social security systems.
- Increase minimum pension rates and reform the pension system with the aim of making it more just and no longer punishing those who have performed unpaid care work.
A more robust welfare system that is not hollowed by the return of profit. We seek to nurture diversity and a range of alternative forms of operations in the organization of the welfare system. However, we see that any surplus generated should be re-invested in the enterprise or organization or be refunded to the state or municipality. Any enterprise, regardless of type, that operates within the welfare system, and which derives at least 50 percent of its budget from public finances, should transparently account for its finances. Tax funds are meant to finance education and health care and should be used for these purposes – not to increase the wealth of venture capitalists and private shareholders.
Critical pedagogy in schools and pre-schools. Every child and young person should be aware of their rights and to have somewhere to turn to, should these rights be violated. The democratic mission of the education system needs to be strengthened through a long term strategy centering on critical thinking and a deepened knowledge of human rights and non-discrimination. Schools need resources to achieve this mission, including increased human resources for school health, salary increases and professional development for teachers, as well as smaller group sizes. A safe learning environment is foundational for the school system to succeed in its mission. Critical pedagogy needs to be mainstreamed into all educational settings including pre-school, school and extra-curricular activities. Racism, sexism and discrimination against people with different abilities and LGBTQ persons needs to be addressed through knowledge and concrete politics. The education system plays a critical role in this mission.
Other prioritized welfare issues are to:
- Ensure education equality and recall education as a responsibility of the state.
- Develop legislation for the right to full time employment and access to child care during irregular working hours
- Strengthen the right to LSS (the act concerning support and service for people with certain disabilities) and put a stop to cutbacks of financial and service support.
- Roll-back RUT (the opportunity for tax deduction when purchasing household services) since it functions as a targeted support to people who are better off at the expense of investments in the general welfare system.
Security and human rights
New legislation on sexual crime – criminalize sex without consent. The right to bodily integrity is a fundamental democratic issue. Young women and LGBTQ persons are the primary victims of sexual harassment, forced sex and sexual violence. Current legislation as well as jurisprudence places responsibility for human rights violations on the victims. This practice is unacceptable. Feministiskt initiativ has long since been advocating for new legislation concerning rape of which the main element is the criminalization of sex without consent. Contrary to the rulings of several courts we believe that men are capable of taking responsibility for their actions and respect their fellow human beings. While reformed legislation is needed, this is not enough. Obligatory training is needed within the justice system on central issues such as violence, sexism, racism and human rights. In addition, sex education in schools needs to be improved and youth centers and clinics need to be made more accessible.
Open borders and amnesty for refugees. Grant stay permits to all persons in Sweden who are lacking identification documents. A study needs to be commissioned in preparation for the opening of Sweden’s borders. Let the resources that are currently spent on controlling people’s movements, be used to strengthen people’s opportunities for participation in and influence over societal affairs. Rewrite the directives to Migrationsverket (the Migration Board) from its current focus on assessing people’s rights to live in Sweden, to supporting those who are newly immigrated with regards to issues such as labour rights, the tax system, housing, education and health care – for a more open and equal Sweden.
Other prioritized issues with regards to security and rights are to:
- Found an independent institute for human rights tasked with promoting, protecting and monitoring progress on human rights in Sweden
- Incorporate the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) into Swedish law
- Remove the existing exemptions in the legislation concerning accessibility and start implementing the provisions included in the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD)
- Ensure government core funding for women’s shelters
- Develop a new co-habitation code that includes all types of families
- Discontinue the export of weapons
- Cut military spending and instead direct substantial resources to violence preventive work
Sustainability and planning
Build away the lack of housing. Housing is a right that needs to be ensured politically. We want to grant state subsidies to the development of environmentally friendly, cheap public housing of several varieties to benefit different types of families and constellations. The ROT- subsidy (the opportunity to deduct 50% of labour costs when purchasing services by craftsmen in the household) should be discontinued. Instead the public housing projects from the 1950’s and 60’s (the so called ‘miljonprogrammen’) should be renovated in order that accessibility and quality of social services in those areas are improved.
Taxing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. The climate issue is primarily one about justice. Women living in poverty in the global south are the ones hardest hit by climate change. Sweden should be pushing for the institution of a global tax on greenhouse gas emissions. The revenue should be managed by the UN and be used to support poor communities as they face natural disasters, and to support sustainable rehabilitation and rebuilding. We see a need for Sweden to take responsibility, through levying a tax on the GHG emissions emanating from food production. The aim of this tax is to reduce meat-consumption, which is responsible for a large share of the GHG emissions and which impacts the environment negatively. The proposed tax should take into account the GHG emissions resulting from the entire lifecycle of the products.
Other prioritized issues with regards to sustainable development are to:
- Invest in accessible public transport and free public transport, primarily in bigger cities
- Remove VAT on rail-road and bus travel, increasing the resources of SJ (the Swedish National Railways) and Trafikverket (the National Transport Administration) and providing those entities with new directives such that ticket prices are reduced
- Reinstate Djurskyddsmyndigheten (the Authority for Animal Protection) and raise ambitions with regards to animal rights
- Actively push for a reduction in our dependence on fossil fuels, so that Sweden will have a fully renewable energy system no later than 2040.
Out with the racists – in with the feminists!
The feminist breakthrough is happening now. A feminist politics that is based on anti-racism, human rights and sustainability is the best alternative for those of us who want to consign fascism to history once and for all. We seek to build an equal society free from discrimination – for a dignified life and participation of all.