Several debaters urge the new foreign minister Tobias Billström (M) that Sweden should continue to lead the way for global equality. In the picture, he can be seen at Almedal Week 2018. Photo: Politikerveckan Almedalen. Source: Flickr.

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Week 43: Debaters encourage the Foreign Minister to take up the fight for equality

The new government's foreign and aid policy continues to create debate. China's increasingly authoritarian rule and Great Britain's new prime minister have also sparked reactions on Swedish debate and editorial pages. 

The new government, together with the Sweden Democrats, has given Sweden's foreign policy a new direction - which is noticeable on Swedish debate and editorial pages. Representatives from 18 civil society organizations call on the new foreign minister Tobias Billström (M) to "take up the fight for global equality" in a debate article in Svenska Dagbladet. The debate article highlights that Sweden's historically strong voice in these issues globally needs to continue to be strong - "independent of political colour".  

Ulrika Grandin, director of operations at UN Women Sweden, and Petra Tötterman Andorff, secretary general of Kvinna till Kvinna, highlight what the feminist foreign policy has resulted in a debate article in About the World. De believes that the new government is doing equality work a disservice by designating the word "feminist" as a red flag.

- It impairs Sweden's international credibility and becomes a play on words, they write.

Also Aftonbladet's editorial writer Susanna Kierkegaard questions that the feminist interests would be in conflict with the Swedish ones. This after Tobias Billström's statement about an increased focus on Swedish and European interests over feminist foreign policy.

The debate about the government's aid policy has also continued on the debate and editorial pages. Several debaters write in Svenska Dagbladet that the government should direct aid to family planning in Africa. In a reply three historians reject what they believe is a one-sided focus on lowering birth rates and refer to the fact that population assistance has in recent years been integrated into larger investments in women's rights and reproductive health. 

Last week's debate also included concerns about China's increasingly authoritarian rule. Former president Hu Jintao was abducted from the Chinese Communist Party's (CCP's) latest party congress in dramatic fashion, which Arvid Åhlund, Today's news, interprets as a clear political signal from Xi Jinping that China is now rapidly moving from a one-party state to a one-party state. Last week, Safeguard Defenders also reported that the Chinese government has police offices stationed around the world, including Sweden, to monitor Chinese abroad.

- The surveillance and repression society has expanded enormously in parallel, writes Peter Wolodarski in Today's news.

Sweden's changed foreign policy

Will the giant Billström fit in his new suit?

Susanna Kierkegaard, Aftonbladet

"The new government does gender equality work a disservice"

Ulrika Grandin, director of operations, UN Women Sweden; Petra Tötterman Andorff, Secretary General Kvinna till Kvinna 

"Take up the fight for global equality, Billström"

Anna Nilsdotter, Secretary General WaterAid; Anna Tibblin, General Secretary We Effect; Caroline Björkdahl, chair Svalorna Latin America; Erik Lysén, head Act Swedish Church; Ingela Holmertz, general secretary RFSU; Jennifer Vidmo, Secretary General ActionAid Sweden; Kerstin Bergå, chairwoman of the Swedish Peace and Arbitration Association; Lena Sundh, chairman of Operation 1325; Lena Thurang, acting general secretary of Doctors of the World; Lotta Sundelin, operations manager Svalorna India Bangladesh; Louise Lindfors, Secretary General of the Africa Groups; Malin Nilsson, general secretary IKFF; Mariann Eriksson, general secretary Plan International Sweden: Mattias Brunander, acting general secretary Diakonia; Petra Tötterman Andorff, Secretary General Kvinna till Kvinna; Prudence Woodford-Berger, Chair PRO Global; Malin Flemström, CEO of The Hunger Project; Ulrika Grandin, operations manager UN Women Sweden, Svenska Dagbladet

The government's aid policy

"Use the aid for family planning"

Frank Götmark, professor of ecology, University of Gothenburg; Nordhild Wetzler, Bachelor of Science in Biology, University of Gothenburg; Malte Andersson, professor emeritus, ecologist, University of Gothenburg; Carl Wahren, political scientist, formerly active within the UN, OECD, Sida and IPPF; Karl-Erik Norrman, former diplomat, secretary general European Cultural Parliament, Svenska Dagbladet 

"Risks with a one-sided focus on child limitation in aid policy"

Annika Berg, docent in history of ideas, Stockholm University; Urban Lundberg, docent in history, Dalarna University; Mattias Tydén, docent in history, Stockholm University, Svenska Dagbladet 

Aid for development, not for extortion.

Principal, Sydsvenskan

China's authoritarian rule

The Chinese grip on the world must not tighten.

Principal, Sydsvenskan

 Xi Jinping's strength makes China weaker

Arvid Åhlund, Dagens Nyheter

Rarely has such a strong warning been sent from the world's largest dictatorship

Peter Wolodarski, Dagens Nyheter 

Will we finally get the end of the story?

Janerik Larsson, Svenska Dagbladet

New Prime Minister of Great Britain

The British were supposed to take back control, but have lost it completely

Gunnar Jonsson, Dagens Nyheter

The British winter will be long and harsh

Gunnar Pettersson, Dagens Nyheter

Richer than the king - now he's prime minister

Susanna Kierkegaard, Aftonbladet

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