When the coalition government of the Social Democrats and the Green Party (supported by only 37.9% of the popular votes) took power, it announced proudly: “Sweden has the first feminist government in the world.” The new cabinet, which consists of 12 men and 12 women, although the PM, Stefan Löfven, is a man, also declared: “A feminist government ensures that a gender equality perspective is brought into policy-making on a broad front, both nationally and internationally. Women and men must have the same power to shape society and their own lives.”
Isabella Lövin, Minister for International Development Cooperation and spokesperson of the Green Party, published an op-ed in the Guardian last Wednesday, on the eve of her visit to Tehran, condemning President Donald Trump’s treatment of women. “We will push for the EU to raise its political profile, stand up for women’s rights, and increase SRHR initiatives in EU aid,” she wrote, promising to “closely monitor the effects that the new US policy has on the financing of various initiatives.”
Then, last Saturday, the Swedish feminists went on a visit to Iran…
2/ Sweden’s “feminist foreign policy” is led by Deputy PM @IsabellaLovin who slammed Trump, said world’s needs leadership on women’s rights. pic.twitter.com/4PoOUHNiYV — Hillel Neuer (@HillelNeuer) February 12, 2017
The two sides signed cooperation deals in Science, education, roads and urban development, communications and information Technology as well as “women’s empowerment.” But not before Trade Minister Ann Linde and other female members of parliament walked before Iranian President Rouhani on Saturday wearing Hijabs, Chadors, and long coats, in deference to Iran’s “modesty laws” which compel women to cover their hair. Out the window went the Swedish government’s promise of “a gender equality perspective,” and promises of a “feminist foreign policy” making “equality between women and men is a fundamental aim.”
“Sweden’s female leaders ignored the recent appeal by Iranian women’s right activist Masih Alinejad who urged Europeans female politicians ‘to stand for their own dignity’ and to refuse to kowtow to the compulsory Hijab while visiting Iran,” wrote UN Watch Director Hillel Neuer on Monday.
“I am an Iranian woman who neither has the right to sing solo, nor to enter stadiums,” Alinejad wrote bravely on her Facebook page. “I won’t plead with others to get freedom. I will struggle with all my force to obtain it.” Her facebook page is dedicated to posting photos and captions sent by women from all over Iran who want to share their “stealthily” taken photos without the veil.
Leave it to the Swedish feminists to step on all of that hope, imagination and courage, for the sake of a deal with the Ayatollahs in Tehran.
Alinejad, who apparently has no illusions about the state of European feminism, wrote that “European female politicians are hypocrites. They stand with French Muslim women and condemn the burkini ban—because they think compulsion is bad—but when it happens to Iran, they just care about money.”
The Swedish newspaper Aftonbladet reported that “the government had been criticized for going on a trade trip to the dictatorship of Iran, but Trade Minister Ann Linde sees no problem with conducting trade in a country where executed prisoners and human rights violations. ‘I see no conflict in it,’ she says.”
Hillel Neuer suggested that “if Sweden really cares about human rights, they should not be empowering a regime that brutalizes its own citizens while carrying out genocide in Syria; and if they care about women’s rights, then the female ministers never should have gone to misogynist Iran in the first place.”