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Contribution of the Communist Party of Sweden

Feb 26, 2024

Dear Comrades,

The emancipation of working class women is an oft-ignored topic in today's discussion, or one that is morphed into liberal feminism; a broad and nebulous bourgeois ideology lacking both class consciousness and an analysis of capitalism and the character of its exploitation.

First I would like to talk about the current situation of women in Sweden. If you ask a random person in Sweden about the situation of women, they will most likely answer that Swedish women have it comparably better than women in the rest of Europe. If you look at bourgeois statistics Sweden ranks high in gender equality. But surely you should never trust bourgeois statistics since they are based on idealistic politics with the main goal to continue the status quo of bourgeois dominance. If you scratch the surface of these statistics you will notice the tendency of capitalism to subjugate women in Sweden as well. It has only gained a veneer of acceptance of the women’s struggle throughout decades of social democratic rule. The more severe the effects of capitalism and the more advanced the decay is, the worse the problem will get for the working class women.

The gender wage gap is still a big problem in Sweden. For example in 2022 men had 10% higher wages than women and after childbirth the wage gap increased further. The studies suggest that it takes 10 years from childbirth to get back to the "normal" wage gap level. The leader of the Christian Democrat Party, herself a woman, noted on social media a few years back that women should stop complaining and if they want to increase their wages they need to change their mindset. Yet another idealistic, ignorant and arrogant argument. As Marxist we see the world through a materialist lens and do not accept rhetoric like this. Most of the low paying jobs are in sectors that are dominated by women and these sectors are often highly crucial for a functional society. We could see the harsh irony of capitalist society during the Covid pandemic when the workers of the women dominated healthcare sector slaved to save lives under difficult and dangerous conditions for low pay, only for their efforts to be celebrated with applause, but often with no marked permanent improvement in pay or working conditions.

Gender discrimination is a naturally occurring element of capitalist society and Sweden is no exception. During their working life women receive less pay increases than their male counterparts and pregnancy is viewed as a liability for women applying to a new job and also for women currently working. The Swedish teacher union is currently suing the state because of discrimination against pregnant teachers during Covid, when they were barred from working due to health concerns, and made to forgo their normal pay, and instead apply for a lower pregnancy allowance. You will see the same kind of gender discrimination throughout the world, with its roots in the way women have been forced to carry the lion’s share of unpaid reproductive work and how that has benefitted capitalism.

One of the ingenious liberal solutions to the precarious situation many women are facing is to pinkwash prostitution. Arguments by liberals have hailed the power women have to sell their bodies online in hopes they will get rich and escape the drudgery of day to day capitalism. This phenomenon has exploded over the last decade and has been hailed by liberals as the ultimate way of female emancipation. Every year pornographic sites make ever greater profits on the exploitation of female bodies. This should be viewed as nothing more than an gamified online brothel that the capitalist class uses to fatten their pockets with.

And of course women face hostility from men in the form of physical and mental abuse that often results in permanent damage and in some cases physical disabilities and death. This is the ultimate cost of womanhood under capitalism. This sexist view is ingrained in the culture and needs to be banished.

Internationally the European bourgeoisies have banded together to set common rules. They do this via the imperialist European Union. The goal of the EU is to maintain and control the workforce, securing maximal profits for European monopoly capital. Right now the EU is increasing its military spending to strengthen its imperialist involvement in Ukraine. As more working class people are sent to their death in a war for capitalist profits, women and children flee to safer countries. Women fleeing the war in Ukraine are a source of cheap labor all over Europe and in most circumstances find low paying jobs such as in the field of cleaning or service work. If they are not lucky enough to find a job the asylum seekers will get a daily allowance of a measly 72 SEK in Sweden, which is less than €7. This level of allowance hasn't increased a single cent since the ‘90s.

As communist we have Marxism-Leninism to guide us to a correct analysis of the effects capitalism has on women. We will not stand idly by while liberal feminism offers a corrupted version of women’s emancipation, which in the end does not threaten the capitalist system built on exploitation, not least the exploitation of women. The only real solution to start establishing equality between the sexes is to raze capitalism to the ground and build socialism.

Thank you,

Long live the proletarian women’s struggle!