An interview with Gudrun Schyman by Zara Majidpour
Gudrun Schyman is one of Sweden’s most high-profile politicians. Schyman was elected party leader for the Socialist left party (Vänsterpartiet) in 1993 and resigned from the party in 2004. She has served as a member of Swedish parliament (Riksdagen) from 1988 until 2006. In 2005 Gudrun Schyman started Feminist Initiative (Feministiskt initiativ, abbreviated Fi or F!) which is a feminist political party in Sweden.
“She is trained as a social worker, specialized in municipal social care services in general and child abuse and victims of incest in particular. Schyman has been active in the Swedish and international peace movement since the early 1980s.” Quote from her website.
I interviewed Gudrun Schyman recently and I ask the following questions:
Question:Based on your speech in 2002* some people criticized you that you believe Swedish men are no better than Afghanistan’s Taliban. In Sweden half of the members of parliament are female and around of 80% of women have jobs while in under Taliban rule women did not have access to basic rights like education or health care. What did you mean by that statement?
Gudrun Schyman:If you red my speech you can see that I said that we have the same pattern of gender based power all over the world, both in Afghanistan, among the Taliban’s, as well as in Sweden. Same pattern but different expressions. The difference depends on how long the process of democratisation has developed. The patriarch thinking and acting is global.
Q: You proposed a special tax on Swedish men to cover the cost of violence against women. Could this proposal work?
Gudrun: I did not propose a men tax. I proposed that the government should show the true costs for the huge security problem with men’s violence towards woman. When getting the true society costs I proposed a discussion about how we should deal with it. There must be a better way than today, when woman is paying with fear.
Q: In July 2010, the Feminist Initiative Party burned 100,000 Swedish kronor in a protest against unequal pay. Some people criticized the party for burning the money which could have been used in a better way and still get attention. As a co-founder of the party, did you achieve your goal?
Gudrun: Absolutely! The fact that women are underpaid, still, after 30 years of discussion (!) is a democratic scandal that reach on top of the agenda. We had several seminars on the topic and we are deepening the cooperation with the trade union in this part.
Q: Sweden has one of the highest levels of gender equality in the world. Why doesn’t the Feminist Initiative Party, which is a feminist political party, have more public support?
Gudrun: Many people in Sweden believe that being on top of the lists means that we have reach the goal. That is of course not true but the myth is cherished by the traditional political parties. The result is none or very little discussion or debate. As a small party without economic support it is hard to reach the public. But we carry on and the support for the party is growing. Local, in Simrishman (Skåne) Feminist initiative is the third biggest party in the local parliament.
Q: As a former leader of Sweden’s Left Party (Vänsterpartiet) and member of the parliament, what is your legacy?
Gudrun: Without pioneers in politics the development of politic is not possible!
This interview was translated into Persian (Farsi) and published in Shahrzadnews website
The discrimination and the violations appears in different shapes depending on where we find ourselves. But it's the same norm, the same structure, the same pattern, that is repeated both in the Taliban's Afghanistan and here in Sweden."