Government appoints commission for gender-equal lifetime earnings
The Government has decided to appoint a commission for gender-equal lifetime earnings. The commission has been instructed to present proposals that aim to increase economic equality between women and men in Sweden in the long term.
– Historically, Sweden has made major progress with regard to economic equality. Despite this, we know that women still earn less than men, take a greater share of parental leave, work part-time to a greater extent, take more sick leave and have a lower level of income from capital. There are also gender equality gaps in the distribution of public support measures. This leads to major differences in lifetime earnings between women and men. The Government has therefore decided today to appoint a commission to examine key areas for increasing economic equality. Money is power, and power must be divided equally, says Minister for Gender Equality Åsa Lindhagen.
The commission for gender-equal lifetime earnings has been instructed to present proposals that aim to increase economic equality between women and men in the long term. The proposals are to contribute to the overall objective of the gender equality policy – that women and men should have equal power to shape society and their own lives.
The commission is primarily to propose measures that contribute to the promotion of gender-equal wages, gender-equal lifetime earnings, a gender-equal distribution of public support measures as well as gender-equal workplaces. The proposals presented by the commission must not impact upon the Swedish labour market model and the responsibility of the social partners for wage formation.
In addition to presenting proposals, the commission is to work to ensure a broad discussion in society and spread knowledge about how economic equality and gender-equal lifetime earnings can be promoted. These outreach activities may include publications, conferences and seminars. They may be organised by the commission itself or in cooperation with others, for example government agencies or the social partners.
The commission’s final report is to be presented by 20 December 2021. An interim report is to be presented in January 2021.
Background and the need for a commission
The overall objective of Swedish gender equality policy is equal power for women and men to shape society and their own lives. Subsidiary objective two on economic equality says that women and men must have the same opportunities and conditions with regard to paid work that gives financial independence throughout life.
The subsidiary objective on economic equality has not been achieved due to a number of factors. These include the fact that women work part-time to a greater extent than men, have lower wages and take greater responsibility for unpaid work in the home. In addition, women are absent from work to a greater extent because of parental leave and ill health. The lower levels of income from work lead to lower future pensions for women. The gender-segregated labour market in Sweden contributes to differences in lifetime earnings since professions that are dominated by women often have lower wages than professions that are dominated by men. On average, women’s income from capital is also lower than men’s.
Most of the circumstances that affect the gender equality of lifetime earnings have previously been the subject of inquiry. The publication of research is ongoing and all in all there is a lot of knowledge. There is now a need for an inquiry to examine and present proposals for measures that are, on the one hand, clearly defined but, on the other, also take aim at several sectors. Overall, a palette of measures targeting several different areas and sectors is needed, which together contribute to the achievement of gender equality policy objectives and the strengthening of women’s economic power.
The commission’s members
Lise Bergh, Chair
Lawyer and Chair of the Board of Trustees of Save the Children Sweden. Has long experience of working with human rights, including as Director of Amnesty International’s Swedish section, as a state secretary and an inquiry chair. She has also served as acting Equal Opportunities Ombudsman.
Mahmood Arai, Member
Professor of Economics. Conducts research into the integration of foreign-born people into Swedish society, gender pay differentials, and decision-making by employment officers and stereotypes linked to physical appearance.
Sture Nordh, Member
Former President of the Swedish Confederation of Professional Employees and the Swedish Union of Local Government Officers (currently Vision). Has long experience of inquiries, chaired the cross-party committee of inquiry on public service broadcasting. Has also served as state secretary at the Ministry of Employment.
Nina Åkestam Wikner, Member
Doctor of Economics and analyst at Google Sverige in the field of advertising effectiveness. Her doctor’s thesis was entitled Understanding advertising stereotypes. Is also a published author, most recently with the book The Feminist Trap.