Gender Equality in Sweden

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Flag of Sweden
Population (in Mil.) 9.52
Gross Domestic Product (In USD Billions - WB) 543.88
Sex Ratio (m/f) 0.98
Life Expectancy Ratio (f/m) 1.05
Fertility Rate 1.67
Estimated Earned Income (f/m) 0.93
Tertiary Enrolment Ratio (f/m) 70.8
Women in Parliament (in %) 44.7
Human Development Index 8/187
Social Institutions and Gender Index /86
Gender Inequality Index 8/186
Gender Equity Index 4/168
Women’s Economic Opportunity Index 1/128
Global Gender Gap Index 4/68
More information on variables


Sweden is considered to be one of the countries with the greatest gender equality, topping several international gender rankings, together with its Nordic neighbours. The country ranks first in the Gender, Institutions and Development Index, second in the Gender Empowerment Measure and fourth in the Gender Gap Index. Women are well represented in parliament and other government bodies. The percentage of women in paid employment is 79 per cent and the birth rate is among the highest in Europe. A well developed social welfare system makes it easier to combine work and family life.

Social Institutions

The Social Institutions and Gender Index (SIGI) measures gender-based discrimination in social norms, practices and laws across 160 countries. The SIGI comprises country profiles, a classification of countries and a database; it serves as a research, policy and advocacy tool for the development community and policy makers.

The SIGI covers five dimensions of discriminatory social institutions, spanning major socio-economic areas that affect women’s lives: discriminatory family code, restricted physical integrity, son bias, restricted resources and assets, and restricted civil liberties. The SIGI’s variables quantify discriminatory social institutions such as unequal inheritance rights, early marriage, violence against women, and unequal land and property rights.

In the 2014 edition of the SIGI, Sweden was not classified in the SIGI due to lack of full dataset. It has lower discrimination in restricted access to resources and assets and higher discrimination in restricted civil liberties. Read the full country profile and access the data here:

Economic Participation

Although slightly decreasing in recent years, women’s economic participation in Sweden remains high compared to other developed countries. In 2005, 25 per cent of Swedish private limited companies and 31 per cent of publicly quoted companies were headed by women. The share of women in senior management reached 12.3 per cent.

Women’s economic participation has greatly benefitted from the Equal Opportunities Act, which requires that all employers promote equality between men and women and prohibits gender discrimination and sexual harassment. Furthermore, currently employed women or female job applicants cannot be discriminated against on the basis that they are, have been or will be on parental leave.

The wage gap between women and men is around 80 per cent, which is among the lowest levels in the world. Pay differentials are mainly due to gender difference in profession, sector, position, work experience and age. A relatively small gap can purely be attributed to gender (and hence indicate a discrimination against women). Pay differentials are greatest in the private sector. 

Political Empowerment

Female representation in government bodies is high. The share of women in the Riksdag reaches 45 per cent. Furthermore, 10 out of 22 government ministers are women. Contrary to the Nordic neighbors Finland, Iceland and Norway, Sweden has not had a female Prime Minister thus far. Among elected politicians in local authorities and county councils, women constitute 41 per cent.


Girls in Sweden are well educated and in a majority in many educational facilities, including primary, secondary and tertiary schools. What is more, girls generally have higher grades than boys on average, sometimes even in previously male-dominated areas such as mathematics and science.

Completion rates of upper secondary schools are higher among girls than among boys. 60 per cent of all undergraduate students are women, who receive two-thirds of all degrees that are awarded. To a lesser extend this trend can also be observed in post graduate studies. Women account for about 44 per cent of doctoral degrees. Finally, women are ahead of their male counterparts in adult education.

Family Life


The Swedish social welfare system makes it easier to combine family and professional life. Parental allowance is paid out for a total of 480 days when a child is born or adopted. Furthermore, parental leave is granted to both mothers and fathers. Specifically, each parent has 60 days’ leave, which can be allotted as determined by their benefits-based income. In addition, the father of a newborn may get ten extra days’ leave. In the case of twins, the leave is doubled to 20 days. A parent adopting a child is entitled to take leave from work for one and a half years, calculated from the time the child comes under his or her care.


The Women, Business and the Law

Where are laws equal for men and women? 

The Women, Business and the Law report presents indicators based on laws and regulations affecting women's prospects as entrepreneurs and employees. Several of these indicators draw on the Gender Law Library, a collection of over 2,000 legal provisions impacting women's economic status. This report does not seek to judge or rank countries, but to provide information to inform discussions about women’s economic rights. Women, Business and the Law provides data covering 6 areas: accessing institutions,using property, getting a job, providing incentives to work, building credit, and going to court. Read more about the methodology.

For detailed information on Sweden, please visit the Women, Business and
the Law Sweden


External Links

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