Abstract

Along with the other Nordic countries, Sweden, Denmark, and Norway are often perceived of as gender equality pioneers with comprehensive gender equality policies. But how does the governmental gender equality policy of today reflect that their populations have become more culturally diverse during the last decades? My analysis, based partly on governmental action plans for gender equality 2000–2005, including the related parliamentary debates, points to some similarities but also to major inter-country differences. In all three countries, there is expressed a clear concern for the agency of women and girls of ethnic minority background, centered on violence and oppression. But, while ethnic minority and gender equality is highly prioritized in the Danish gender equality policy, the same is not true for the Swedish equivalent in the period studied. Also, the Danish case gives the clearest example of what is believed to be conflict between minority cultural traditions and “Danish” equality norms, whereas the Swedish governmental rhetoric is dominated by theories of ongoing patriarchy, seemingly indifferent to cultural diversity. While Norway is characterized by a lack of overall gender equality action plans and parliamentary gender equality debates during this period, its policies towards gender and multiculturalism have been managed largely as discrete issues.

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