The Embassy of Sweden, in collaboration with Femme First Foundation, organized Women in Parliament: Experiences from Sweden, a virtual discussion between women Members of Parliament from Sweden and aspiring women politicians from India. The event, which was held on September 4, 2021, was a first of its kind and was conceptualised against the backdrop of Sweden’s Feminist Foreign Policy.
The Ambassador of Sweden to India Mr Klas Molin gave the opening remarks.
Ambassador Klas Molin said:
“Gender equality and equal rights for all is a pillar of Swedish foreign policy. It means respecting rights, allocating resources and securing representation at all levels. We are proud to support the mission of Femme First and the fellowship program Women in Government as an example of how to work constructively to increase and improve participation in politics and government by women.”
Women in Parliament: Experiences from Sweden was curated and conducted by Femme First Foundation, a nonpartisan non-profit organisation working for women’s leadership in India, as a part of their ongoing Women in Government Fellowship – a six-month program that is focused on capacity-building, training, and mentorship of women in politics. It seeks to enhance and improve the quality of political participation of women in India.
Angellica Aribam, founder of Femme First Foundation, said:
“India has just 14.3% women in our Parliament and is ranked 145th globally. We have so much to learn from countries that have pushed the boundary for gender equality, and Sweden features on top of that list. The Swedish government prides itself on being the first feminist government in the world. They have almost 50% women representation in their parliament, and that reflects in their policymaking. Through today’s exchange, Indian women in politics learned first-hand from the lived experiences of women MPs of Sweden and forged lasting friendships. It’s one step towards a gender-equal world.”
— Sweden in India (@SwedeninIndia) September 2, 2021
In the first cohort of the fellowship, there are 18 remarkable women leaders from across the country. They are a mix of women already in elected office, political party office bearers, and civil society leaders who aspire to join politics.
The MPs from Sweden included former Swedish Defence Minister Ms Karin Enström (Moderate Party & Chair of Committee on the Constitution), Ms Camilla Hansén (Green party & Member of Committee on Foreign Affairs), Ms Emilia Töyrä (Social Democratic party & Member of Committee on Social Assurance), and Ms Tina Acketoft (Liberal party & Spokesperson on Constitutional Affairs); some of who had visited India as recently as 2019.
The Swedish MPs engaged in a fireside chat and talked about the benefits of women’s leadership in today’s era, shared their own lived experiences, and what they think of the future in terms of feminist leadership. Further, the Fellows of the program got a chance to have an intimate discussion with the MPs in small groups to share notes about the challenges and achievements of their journeys.
The event was engaging and proved to be beneficial to both the sides. The fellows were well informed and eager to learn more from the experienced Parliamentarians, who in turn were impressed by the questions and enthusiasm of the young women. Their key advice to the aspiring politicians was to look out for each other and support other women, despite different parties and political leanings and alliances.