Author: Anna Falgén Enqvist

Your are always beautiful

Live Your Life and Love Your Body

I’ve noticed during the past year the body positive movement has been expanding across social media. The body positive movement is a feminist movement confirming that all bodies are good bodies. It serves as a reaction to what mainstream media considers to be an acceptable female body which overwhelmingly only represents the bodies of white, thin and straight women. The body positive movement aims to provide equal representation of marginalized bodies including the bodies of people of color, members of the LGBTQ community and non-traditionally thin body shapes. I doubt anyone hasn’t seen the wave of this movement in social media, which uses hashtags such as #myswimbody #beautybeyondsize, #bodypositive and #loveyourbody, where women of all shapes, sizes, heights and colors picture their own bodies as beautiful despite societal standards. The body positive movement has also recently reached the fashion industry in how Ashley Graham became the first plus size model to be featured on the cover of Sports Illustrated. During her appearance on The Ellen Show, she discusses recent milestones in her career and the impact she’s making toward increasing body representation in media. …

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Assisted Reproduction for Single Women in Sweden

As of April 1, it will be legal for single women in Sweden to receive assisted reproduction. On January 13, 2016, the Swedish parliament accepted a government bill to give single women the right to assisted reproduction. This is, in many ways, a historical day since the Swedish state will give single women the same opportunity to become parents as married couples and registered partners. Out of the 349 members in the Swedish parliament, 218 voted yes, 40 opposed the bill, and 13 abstained their votes.  Of the eight parliament parties, the Swedish Democrats and the Christian Democrats opposed the law. Since 2005, the Swedish state has allowed lesbian couples to receive assisted reproduction and gay couples to adopt. Many have been arguing that Sweden -as one of the world’s leading countries concerning gender equality and minority rights- should allow single women to undergo artificial insemination as well. The Centre party, the Liberals, and the Moderates advocate for single women to have access to artificial insemination. The three parties state: “We are convinced that people’s fitness to be parents is not …

Photo Credit: Jesper Yu

Towards Individualised Parental Leave in Sweden

Sweden is famous for being one of the most gender-egalitarian countries in the world. A generous welfare system makes it easier for both women and men to balance work and family life. In Sweden, parents are given 480 days of parental leave when a child is born or adopted. Mothers and fathers are expected to share equally between these days. It is possible for one parent to take up to 420 days while the remaining 60 days are reserved for the other parent. Although both parents have the right to share the parental leave, women are more likely to be the primary care-giver (women claim 75 % of parental leave). In the Swedish labor market 30 % of all women work part time compared to only 11 % of men. In 2013 women earned on average 15,8% less than the average male employee and women are underrepresented in economic decision-making positions.  This has started a hectic discussion in Swedish politics and media about how to solve this gender gap. Today, many Swedish parties are arguing about the inequality of parental leave. Feminist Initiative claims that an individualised …

Image c/o UNHCR

Light for refugee women

Today in Sudan, South Sudan, Democratic Republic of Congo and Eritrea, people struggle under civil war and dictatorship. In these countries, many people are killed and forced to flee their homes. Many travel across the Mediterranean with hopes of reaching Europe.  Still others attempt to cross the Sinai desert, a region located between Israel and Egypt, with hopes of finding refuge in Israel. Unfortunately, many do not arrive safely. In the Sinai desert, women, men and children often fall victim to human trafficking and are forced to live in camps as sex slaves where they are repeatedly brutalized. Women who escape to Israel are often pregnant and completely lack access to medical care. Criminal gangs enslave and torture refugees and force their families to pay expensive ransoms to keep them alive. Life for refugees is difficult and, to make matters worse, government support is limited. The lack of a political agenda to uphold rights for refugees contributes to the violence and leaves many homeless – and women are the most vulnerable. In the midst of darkness, there is hope. Many grassroots initiatives and civil society work to empower women. Without the dedicated help …

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Replace the Racists with Feminists

May 25th, 2014 was a historical day for Europe.  It was the day of the European Parliament elections, which brought tens of millions of Europeans to the voting stations in all EU member countries to elect Members of the European Parliament who would be representing the over 500 million EU citizens for the next five years. May 25th 2014 ended up being a historical day for Europeans, both from the positive aspect but unfortunately also from a negative aspect. Unfortunately, this year’s election was a good one for the far conservative right parties – many of which are openly racist, and many of which now hold seats in the Parliament. For example, in France the far-right party Front National gained nearly 25% of all the French votes, Greece’s extreme right party Golden Dawn – which is often described as a party with a neo-nazi ideology – took around 10% of the vote and secured seats in the EU parliament, and  in Germany the National Democratic Party, which is often described as neo-nazist and Hitler-apologetic, was elected …

Photo Credit: UNDP Europe and CIS on Flickr, Creative Commons https://www.flickr.com/photos/undpeuropeandcis/10424396393

The Oppression of Women Exists Everywhere

In my previous blog post, The Rise of Islamophobia and the Feminist Debate, I discussed how the populist far right in Western countries tend to blame Muslim men and Islam as the only oppressors of women.  I argue that the oppression of women is a global phenomena that does not exist in just one culture or religion and that the oppression of women exists everywhere. “The oppression of women is our century’s greatest injustice,” is what Sheryl WuDunn calls it in her TED Talk. In this lecture Sheryl describes the oppression of women as a global phenomena connected to poverty and development, Sheryl argues that the greatest moral challenge of this century is gender inequality. I think this lecture is very inspirational and I fully agree with her. Women’s rights are one of the most important issues the world faces today, in all societies, cultures and religions. All around the world women are oppressed and neglected their rights. It is a problem we should not underestimate. The lack of women’s rights is a global problem. The global oppression of women just takes different shapes in different countries, …

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FATTA: A Campaign that Inspires Change

After several cases whereby the Swedish courts acquitted rape suspects amid dubious circumstances, the public, activists and politicians alike have raised questions about whether or not the current Swedish legal system essentially legalizes sexual assault rather than defends its victims. Here are two examples of cases that have been widely debated due to court convictions: In November of 2013, a foster father was released from suspicion after his foster daughter reported that he had raped her. Even though DNA testing found evidence of the father’s sperm inside his daughter, the court neglected to convict the foster father since he insisted that he had been masturbating in the bathroom, left his sperm on toilet paper and his foster daughter went in after him and wiped herself with the toilet paper. (The court appeals later convicted the foster dad after societal protests and media attention.) In May of 2013, three young men were suspected of raping a young girl with a wine bottle and, despite the fact that the men admitted the action, the court failed to convict …

High school students in Afghanistan. Picture by Graham Crouch/World Bank

The Rise of Islamophobia and the Feminist Debate

After September 11 and the outbreak of the Arab spring, and as an effect of today’s wars in places like Afghanistan and Syria, the Muslim population migrating to the Western world has increased. With the increase of Muslim refugees we also have witnessed how parties from the political far right are gaining ground in several Western countries. These parties build their politics on hate against Muslims, where they target different human values depending on culture and religion. I believe these opinions construct racism and segregation in our societies, where the construction of “us” vs. “them” becomes more common. This increased populism also shapes the debate concerning women’s rights and feminism. Today we can witness how the far right connects Islam (and especially Muslim men) with the global oppression against women. According to the far right, the oppression against Western women would be solved if Western countries did not have any Muslim immigrants. This issue is discussed in the academic article, Muslim women’s new defenders: Women’s rights, nationalism and Islamophobia in contemporary Australia, from University of Technology in Sydney. In …