A call for a debate on the equality of men and women

The Swedish ambassador to France took the floor at the first conference of this school year at the Sciences Po campus in Dijon on the 6th october 2016 at 19:00. Veronika Wand-Danielsson talked about the equality of women in current society. She explained the development of this movement in Sweden and presented examples of better policy on this subject.

The event was organized by the association Politiqu’elles in Dijon. “The primary focus of the association are the rights of women, their equal access to politics and managing public affairs.” explains the president of the Dijon branch of the association, Ivelina Petrova. They focus especially on women in Central and Eastern Europe. The initiation of the event came from Morgane Gasse, the president of the association in 2015. After a successful cooperation, the team of Politiqu’elles invited the precious guest to speak on the floor of Sciences Po. This was the first conference at Sciences Po in the year 2016/2017.

The name of the conference was “La France, la Suède et l’égalité des hommes et femmes.” (transl. France, Sweden and the equality of men and women). It took place in the amphitheatre of SciencesPo. The audience consisted of students but also of numerous inhabitants of Dijon. Veronika Wand-Danielsson is currently the Swedish ambassador in France. During her career, she participated in numerous missions throughout Europe and the whole world including Afghanistan or Ukraine. “L’égalité des chances, c’est la priorité,” (transl. The equality of opportunities is the priority.) she said in her speech introducing the importance of the debate on the rights of women.

The history of Sweden has many examples of women’s liberation since early 13th century when in 1250s the rape and abduction was prohibited until the beginning of the 20th century. In 1921, women finally gained universal suffrage. Nowadays, main issues concern mostly labor and the economic rights.“C’est l’investissement dans la société et dans le développement économique.” (transl. It’s the investment in society and in economic development). One of her strongest arguments was that “empowerment” of women is profitable for the whole society, increasing productivity, producing more revenue for the family and promoting equality. She named her 3R as “rights, representation, resources.” The emancipation of women is a way to make “smart economics” but also “smart politics”.

She still considers France to be a very conservative country. She encouraged the acceleration of the engagement of France in this field. One of the specific examples she presented was the recent introduction of both the access to and obligation of paternity leave for both parents. This step was a breaking point for the Swedish society after which they realized that it is possible to do politics differently and more equally. After the speech she answered all the questions including the curious one  – whether she prefers title Mme Ambassadeur or Mme Ambassadrice as in French the official title is still bound to the man. She responded humorously: “Vous pouvez m’appeler Veronika si vous voulez.”(You can even call me Veronika if you want.)

Juraj PALA

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