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Speech by Minister for Gender Equality and Working Life Paulina Brandberg at the 111th International Labour Conference


Genève, 8 June 2023.

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Your excellencies, ladies and gentlemen, constituents of the International Labour Organization. It is an honour for me to address this 111th session of the International Labour Conference.


In the first line of the preamble of the ILO constitution social justice is underlined as the foundation of universal and lasting peace.

One hundred and four years after the founding of this organisation, the importance of advancing social justice is more pressing than ever. Crises generated by challenges linked to for example the COVID-19 pandemic, climate change, demographic and technological shifts as well as violence and insecurity, including gender-based violence and harassment, undermine our fundamental human rights and affect people’s chances to build a good life for themselves. This is a threat to economic growth and human progress. 

Today, I need to very clear. 

Everyone must be able to fully enjoy all human rights. Regardless of sex, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression. Regardless of ethnicity, religion, or other belief. Regardless of disability, age, or any other status. The Swedish government is committed to ensure equal rights and the full and equal enjoyment of human rights of all LGBTIQ+-persons. We expect the ILO to be at the forefront of combatting discrimination including on the basis of sexual orientation, gender identity and gender expression. The ILO cannot fail to protect persons who are among the most exposed to harassment and even threats to their lives.  


Today, I also want to underline gender equality as a matter of social justice, allowing equal access to rights, resources and opportunities.

Sweden’s relatively high degree of gender equality derives from decades of political will to prioritise gender equality; to take necessary political decisions, and to build an infrastructure for gender equality.

Allow me to highlight four important aspects.

Social infrastructure. In particular the set-up of accessible and affordable child-care and elderly care of good quality. When child-care and elderly care is adequate, women’s labour force participation increases.

Separate income taxation for women and men. This too leads to an increase in women’s labour supply.

Paid parental benefit for both parents. This provides incentives for men and women to use equal shares of the parental leave.

Women’s access to productive resources such as land, property, and credit. A gender approach to for example land rights can enable shifts in gender power relations increasing women’s economic empowerment and reducing poverty.

These aspects promote gender equality and increase women’s prospects to have the same opportunities as men to enter the labour market, and to remain and progress there. They impact women’s earnings, well-being, and bargaining power at home.

The Swedish policy agenda strives to combat inhibitive gender roles and structures so that all women and men, boys and girls in all their diversity can live their lives to their full potential.


Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen, 

Everyone has the right to live in freedom and security. There is no peace without social justice. But there is also no social justice without peace. Sweden stands united in strong solidarity with the Ukrainian people in the face of Russia’s war of aggression. We will continue to support Ukraine and hold Russia accountable. International humanitarian law must be respected. We welcome the ongoing efforts of the ILO and the Director General to support the Ukrainian constituents. 


Sweden will never accept any pushbacks when it comes to everyone’s full enjoyment of human rights. 

Our aim is, and will always be, to build a more equal, prosperous and resilient world. In this work, we will always fight for the most vulnerable groups, including women and girls as well as LGBTIQ+-persons.

Let us continue this game-changing work together. Let us join forces and build a more socially just world with equal opportunities for all.

I thank you.