Sweden’s gender equality barometer 2017 - Time, power and money
Welfare issues This is a summary of LO’s gender equality report of 2017 “Sweden’s gender equality barometer – Time, power and money”. A report that highlights conditions of work and family life from a class and gender perspective. The aim is to describe the material conditions and power resources that underlie the scope of action available to women and men in different social groups. Or as expressed in the Swedish government’s gender equality policy objectives; the power to shape society and your own life.
Time, power and money – conclusions and policy proposals
Gender equality surveys have long shown structural differences between women and men in general. But the challenges of work and family balance are different for women and men i blue-collar and white-collar groups. There are common experiences of great time pressure and high workload, but the conditions of working life and family life reflect gender and classbased unequal distribution of time, power and money.
All in all, focusing on individual solutions to structural problems is insufficient for everyone. General welfare solutions, which benefit everyone, must be strengthened to break through and increase gender equality as well as reducing class-based inequality. Trade union and political strategies for increased equality must go hand in hand and be linked to concrete action. Time, power and money must be distributed more equally.
Control over time and allocation of time between paid and unpaid work must be more evenly divided between women and men in blue-collar and white-collar occupations. To facilitate change, LO calls for:
- Full-time as the norm throughout the whole labour market. The part-time norm in women-dominated blue-collar occupations must be broken. Tax-financed organisations must take the lead and the social partners negotiate and develop how full-time jobs can be implemented in the public sector.
- Individualisation of parental leave benefits. The division of parental leave between mothers and fathers must steer towards a gender equal take-up through changes in the parental leave insurance. It is also important to find ways so that mothers and fathers allocate part-time work evenly between themselves when children are small.
- Guaranteed childcare on inconvenient working hours and pre-school from the age of two. Municipalities should be obliged to offer childcare on evenings and weekends to better cater to the needs of blue-collar parents. Pre-school should be introduced from the age of two and children of parents on parental leave and unemployed should be entitled to childcare/pre-school at least 30 hours per week.
- Reinforcement of social equality through initiatives for high-quality and jointly taxfinanced welfare services. In addition to improvements of childcare, access to elderly care must be guaranteed. Elderly care is particularly important for women’s labour force participation, employment and full-time work. Access to homes for the elderly must improve.
- Abolished tax-subsidies for private housework services. Privatised housework services are neither the answer to the needs of improved welfare services nor the answer to employment or gender equality. Instead general welfare solutions are effective for providing high-quality welfare services and at the same time decrease gender and class-based inequality.
Power and influence over work must be more equally distributed between employees and employers, so that women and men in blue-collar and white-collar occupations have secure and sound conditions of work. To facilitate change, LO calls for:
- Strengthened job security. The insecurity of women-dominated blue-collar occupations must be broken. Time-limited employment contracts Fixed-term should only be allowed if there are objective reasons for a time-limitation. Repeated, consecutive, short-term time-limited contracts with the same employer should be abolished.
- Improved preventive health and safety work. Politics and employers must take greater responsibility for health and safety at work. Working life and work environment research, from a gender and class perspective, must be guaranteed to improve working conditions to enable blue-collar women (and men) to work until retirement age. Therefore, there must be special research initiatives directed towards small workplaces and women-dominated sectors.
- Women’s power over work must to be strengthened through more personnel and economic resources in the public sector. Substantial public investment is needed in healthcare, education and social services. New Public Management must also be reviewed and replaced. The forms of governance of these important welfare state institutions must support the professionalism and employee influence as it is a foundation of quality in welfare services.
Money must be more equally distributed between women and men in blue-collar and whitecollar occupations. To facilitate change, LO calls for:
- Social partners to prioritize high and increased minimum wages. One of LO’s longterm wage policy targets is that all collectively agreed minimum wage levels for adults, who are not in training, must correspond to at least 75 per cent of the average monthly wage for blue-collar workers.
- Social partners to take considerably greater responsibility for gender equal pay. LO must a driving force for ensuring redistribution, recognition and upgrading of women’s work. In this, it is important to decrease value discrimination stemming from wage differentials between women-dominated and men-dominated blue-collar occupations.
- The Swedish government to pursue policy that leads to gender equal economic conditions. The Government’s objective for economic gender equality is that women and men shall have the same opportunities and conditions regarding paid work, which gives economic independence throughout life. This entails obligations and requires a gender equality policy agenda that also leads to greater equality in terms of class.