The model of equal opportunities of Sweden – guidelines for Lithuania

Ona Gražina Rakauskienė, Vaida Lisauskaitė


The present demographic situation in Europe, with low birth rates and ageing populations, highlights the impact of gender relations and family life on economic development. According to a growing body of research, countries that fail to restructure their societies in line with modern women‘s demands for equal rights and responsibilities un the risk of curbing population growth, accelerating the ageing of the population, and, in the longer term, slowing down economic growth.
In Sweden, gender equality has occupied an important place in the general political debate since the 1990s. This is reflected in a strong emphasis on gender equality as a means of enhancing quality-of-life throughout society. The opportunity for both men and women to fulfill themselves, based on their personal qualifications, results in higher quality-of-life and the maximum utilization of human potential. Gender equality is considered a constitutional right in Sweden, since it has been part of swedish law since 1974. In many contexts, people also refer to the Scandinavian welfare state model as being particularly favorable to women, a model that has made it possible for women to combine parenthood and work.
Gender mainstreaming is one of the most frequently used methods for achieving gender equality. In concrete terms, the gender equality perspective is incorporated into the mainstream of every political area.
One of several tools for review and analysis of gender equality is the 3R method (3R means as follows: Representation, Resources and Realities). It was developed in Sweden and has primarily used by local authorities to review and analyse influence among women and men in municipalities. The method involves developing quantitative data, figure and information, which then provide the basis for qualitative analysis of the operation. It serves as an aid in systematically compiling facts and information about the circumstance of women and men in a given situation. The tool basically answers the question: who receives what and on which terms?
Gender equality is usually understood as an issue of political and social rights. In Sweden, however, the struggle for gender equality has also been closely linked with long-term economic and social concerns. Swedish gender equality policies build on a strong tradition of pro-natalist and supportive social policies. This demographic tradition makes the Swedish experience highly relevant to the current European debate about declining birth rates and population ageing.
The Swedish welfare state is based on a dual bread-winner model. Sweden has adopted a gender-neutral concept of social citizenship. The state uses separate taxation, generous public day-care provision for pre-school children, and extensive programmes of parental leave to encourage married women/mothers to remain in gainful employment. The Swedish dual breadwinner model contrasts sharply with the predominant European welfare state model, which was designed around the single (male) breadwinner.
It is necessary to ensure gender equality in Lithuania. The most important condition for that is removing out of dominant patriarchal attitude and stereotyped roles in Lithuanian society, labour market and overall market economy. The disproportions in distribution of duties and responsibilities between women and men in the family have to be shifted, because society keeps women as housewives more significant than women as gainful employment and career. This attitude makes relevant presumption to discriminate women in occupational and economical activities.
Although Lithuanian law provides equal rights and opportunities for women and men, however in real life this official rules are not so easy realizable.
In order to implement equal opportunities of gender, it must be formed a new attitude towards women’s and man’s roles.
An active policy of women labour market have to be established in case to implement the idea of equality. The main tools of it are as follows: support employment of women, who have children, making conditions for flexible job occupation and combine parenthood and work. The development of day-care provision service for children and increase of it’s quality, make opportunities for fathers to integrate into household economy as well.


Swedish equal opportunity model; gender equality; gender mainstreaming; dual-breadwinner model; 3R method; gender asymmetry

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"Public Policy and Administration" ISSN online 2029-2872 / ISSN print 1648-2603