Sweden

 

Model

Gender impact assessment is a relatively common instrument to support gender-mainstreaming implementation in Sweden. It appears to be strongly embedded and is carried out at the initiative of different levels of governance, from the local to the national level. At the level of government offices, gender impact assessments are most regularly performed when drawing up government bills, terms of references for inquiry committees and other relevant documents.

The implementation of gender impact assessment is conducted in the framework of the Swedish government’s gender-mainstreaming strategy.
 

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In Sweden, a distinction is usually been made between gender impact assessments and gender equality analysis: while the first entails reporting statistics and other data disaggregated by sex, in order to assess the potentially negative impact of a measure on one particular gender, the latter is carried out in relation to the objectives of the gender equality policy in place at the corresponding governance level.

Actors involved

At the national level, gender impact assessments are to be performed by relevant government offices. Drafts for government bills and other relevant documents have to be discussed with the Department of Gender Equality.

In Sweden, the responsibility for gender impact assessment is distributed between a great number of public services and offices at different levels, with the assistance of central, local or service-specific gender equality machineries. Gender equality units are consulted throughout the process by the ministries, departments or services in charge of the gender impact assessment, and provide civil servants with relevant instruments and expertise as well as with specific training on gender impact assessment.

Furthermore, the different ministries of the Swedish government  must  monitor their own work for gender mainstreaming and report to the Division for Gender Equality. The results of all monitoring are reported to the Minister of Gender Equality and each ministry receives feedback from the evaluation. The Gender Equality Division even has the right to block a draft bill if they find that it is not good enough in terms of gender equality.

Guidelines

In Sweden, a number of guidelines and other supporting tools have been developed for the implementation of gender impact assessment at the level of governmental offices, but also within the framework of locally driven projects or at the level of local/regional entities. This richness and relative plurality of the methodological instruments at hand is very broad.

At the level of governmental offices, the Division for Gender Equality provides tools on  the intranet website, which is accessible to all ministries. However,  it is important to highlight that the ministries do not necessarily follow these methods in the fullest possible sense (since they remain optional). There is also the option of specific training on how to perform gender impact assessment.

 

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Those tools include gender impact assessment for terms of reference to committees, in the form of a three-step process:

  1. Is gender equality a relevant issue or not?
  2. In what ways is gender relevant?
  3. Integrate clarity about gender equality in the Terms of References

A similar tool is also available for bills introduced by the cabinet, in the form of a four-step guideline driven by the following questions:

  1. Is gender equality a relevant issue or not?
  2. In what ways is gender relevant?
  3. Make the conditions for women and men respectively clear and make a conclusion
  4. Report the consequences of the Bill´s proposal from a gender equality perspective

There is another additional tool to carry out more thorough gender impact assessment, which comprises nine steps:

  1. Identify target groups
  2. Report gender patterns
  3. Formulate observations
  4. List possible causes and consequences
  5. Discard or confirm possible causes and consequences
  6. Analyse and describe
  7. Identify actors and stakeholders
  8. List possible measures
  9. Propose measures

Furthermore, in Sweden, different types of gender analyses, which have contributed to strengthening the Swedish gender-mainstreaming strategy, have been used over the years to assess the gender impact, such as 3R, 4R and GERAC.

Finally, and as has already been mentioned, the Division for Gender Equality offers training on gender impact assessment. It even provides customised training to each department on demand.

Strengths and weaknesses

In Sweden, the shared responsibility for gender impact assessment is one factor in its success, since each ministry is responsible for gender equality within its policy area. One reason why this works relatively well is that officials in the Swedish government offices are used to undertaking analysis in general and that their knowledge of gender, gender equality policies and assessment of impacts on gender is overall relatively high. The tailored training provided by the Division for Gender Equality help departments and ministries to improve the quality of their gender impact assessments.

Furthermore,  political commitment is relatively high and gender equality is an issue at the political level in all ministries. Additionally, the gender equality machinery plays an important part in the follow-up and evaluation of the work done by each ministry.

On the other hand, there are some weaknesses. In reality, there is no follow-up as to what extent methods for gender impact assessment provided by the Division Gender Equality are used. Furthermore, shared responsibility also means that the gender impact assessments are not compiled and published and therefore cannot be used to generate peer learning for others.