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    Too Few Women in Power: Feminist Sweden Schools NATO on Gender Equality

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    According to a Swedish government institution, NATO uses too many illustrations of combat vehicles and aircraft in their self-portrayal instead of attracting women with more comfortable duties, such as policy work, development and counseling.

    According to a Swedish government institution, NATO uses too many illustrations of combat vehicles and aircraft in their self-portrayal instead of attracting women with more comfortable duties, such as policy work, development and counseling.

    NATO has a "long a way to go" before it finally becomes gender equal, the Swedish Defense Research Agency (FOI) said in its evaluation.

    In June 2017, the FOI received the honorable task of reviewing and evaluating the way NATO's gender policy adopted in 2010 has been implemented. Sweden is not a NATO member, rather opting to remain non-aligned, but maintains strong ties to the organization.

    According to gender researcher Helené Lackenbauer of the FOI, NATO's failure and shortcomings in gender issues depend, among other things, on "incomplete leadership."

    "The fact that the senior management supports gender-related work, as well as that there are both a policy and a plan of action in place are important prerequisites. However, already at this level there are shortcomings with NATO for lack of clear objectives for the plan of action," Lackenbauer said in a press-release.

    ​Lackenbauer called for NATO managers to shoulder more responsibility for what is happening within their organization in order for gender work to progress.

    "It must affect pay, promotions and career opportunities, otherwise the development will not speed up," FOI stressed, calling for more women in positions of influence and power.

    READ MORE: Gender Bender? Swedish Sexual Equality 'Robot' Mocked Online

    At the same time, however, the Swedish research institute stressed that both men and women must be given the opportunity to combine professional careers with family life.

    Yet another complaint lodged by the FOI deals with NATO's employment policy and self-projection in social media.

    "Social media illustrate the organization with combat vehicles and aircraft," complained the FOI, slamming the fact that it does little to highlight the more comfortable tasks that would attract more women. "It doesn't appear that there is a wide range of services, such as policy work, counseling and program management. It makes it difficult to recruit women to higher positions, but it's also hard for women who've already been recruited to stay where they are," the FOI wrote.

    READ MORE: Game Changer: Sweden Insists on Ridding Racing Grand Prix of Lightly-Clad Girls

    Lastly, Helené Lackenbauer also raised the problem of insufficient knowledge on how to integrate the gender perspective into NATO's daily work.

    "Everything is in place, but not much is happening. It seems difficult to take it to the next level," Helené Lackenbauer stressed.

    ​For Sweden's overtly feminist government, promoting gender issues is one of its top priorities. "Sweden has the world's first feminist government, which means that gender equality is crucial to government priorities in decision-making and allocation of resources," the government's website said. To support this cause, Sweden pledged earlier this month to invest SEK 1 billion ($120 million) in global gender equality efforts over the coming years. The money is expected to be distributed via the Sida assistance organization between 2018 and 2022.

    Related:

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    gender equality, gender discrimination, NATO, Scandinavia, Sweden
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