My name is Leif Pagrotsky and I am the Consul General of Sweden in New York. On the occasion of the United Nations’ annual gender equality meeting Commission on the Status of Women CSW62 in New York, I am here to answer questions about what Sweden, one of the world’s most gender-equal countries, is doing to ensure equal rights for girls and women in Sweden and worldwide. You can start posting your questions right now! Starting at 10 am EST, I’ll answer them!


Thanks so much for your questions! Sweden’s commitment to gender equality stands firm and the work is not done until girls’ and women’s rights are equal to those of boys and men. While there’s been a lot of progress, there are still many forms of discrimination of women and girls so it’s important to keep the work going. We hope you will join us and take a feminist stand too in your everyday life!

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Comments: 197 • Responses: 25  • Date: 

enochian24 karma

Recently a a man was acquitted by the Swedish court for assaulting his wife because the lay judges argued that since both victim and perpetrator were Muslim, the violence should not be handled by the court but by the family - and that the man came from a better family than the woman. The woman was deemed "not trustworthy" because she went to the police rather than to the family. Do you feel that the increasing prevalence of Muslim values in Swedish society is a threat the the safety and civil rights of women?

LeifPagrotsky_36 karma

This case was immediately brought to the attention of the media, public, and legal system, as well as the Center Party, which the members of the court represented. The two lay judges were instantly fired from their assignment in the court as well as from their party. The end result proves that this way of arguing is unlawful.

enochian10 karma

How prevalent are viewpoints such as those of the lay judges in this case?

LeifPagrotsky_11 karma

This was the first and only one, and I'm convinced it will never be repeated.

yourbuddy_22 karma

How has the migrant crisis affected the struggle for equality? Have the cultures of countries that said migrants come from, which can be misogynistic, made it harder for them to integrate in feminist Sweden?

LeifPagrotsky_6 karma

Sweden has received many migrants in a short period of time. One way to introduce newly arrived children and young people to Sweden is the website The website, which targets newly arrived children and young people aged 13–20, is part of the Government’s efforts to provide more information for young people who did not grow up in Sweden and who do not have Swedish as their first language. The website is multilingual and provides information about health, gender equality, and sexual and reproductive health and rights.

Iskald_16 karma

What are your thoughts on the gender wage gap, and what do you think of the studies that have refuted it when controlling for fields?

Second question, do you believe in “affirmative action” to hire women/men based on filling a certain gender quota, and do you think this is sexist and discriminating?

LeifPagrotsky_14 karma

Economic equality is key to gender equality at large. Therefore, the persisting, and even globally widening, gender wage gap is an issue we still need to work on. Besides direct wage discrimination, it is largely caused by women more often working part-time and in non-permanent contracts. These work patterns could be counterfeited if men and women would share the unpaid house and care work equally. Women and men overall work in different sectors that are valued unequally, and do not have the same career possibilities even within their sector. This is something that needs to be addressed already in early ages in education, where boys and girls should be treated in a non-stereotypical way and encouraged to make career and educational choices free from gender bias.

Level3Kobold12 karma

How big is the gender gap in higher education in Sweden, and what policies are you implementing to help close the gap?

LeifPagrotsky_9 karma

Actually, women are in many cases overrepresented in higher education. However, women’s representation in higher education decreases the higher the degree: women are overrepresented in bachelors studies but underrepresented at doctorate’s level.

aecht11 karma

is there anything here in the States that you wish you saw more of in Sweden? Could be a political practice, an ideology, sport, food, whatever

LeifPagrotsky_21 karma

Americans tend to be more confident – I like that. In Sweden, people usually refrain from talking about themselves in a positive way. We have this cultural notion called "Law of Jante" which basically means that you shouldn’t think you’re better than anyone else. I think that sometimes, you should show that you’re proud of your accomplishments.

pussgurka10 karma

What was your biggest culture shock regarding gender related issues while living in New York?

LeifPagrotsky_53 karma

Coming from Sweden, where you see both men and women with their kids in public, it was striking to me that when you see kids in New York they are almost exclusively in the company of women.

cahaseler8 karma

Tells us about a day in the life of a Consul General. What do you do in New York?

LeifPagrotsky_22 karma

My job is to promote Sweden when it comes to trade and investment, culture and the arts. On a typical day, I bike to work, get a briefing from my assistant, and have office and business meetings. I also represent Sweden and the Nordic Council of Ministers at various events, in New York and in the other 8 states in our district. The Consulate also regularly hosts receptions at the official Swedish residence – it can be in connection with events going on in New York, such as an arts fair with Swedish participants, or connecting Swedish investors, start-ups, members of parliament with potential American business partners.

I like to go out for coffee and beer, and I often find myself at hipster places. Sometimes I feel my beard is a bit greyer than the other guys’ though…

cahaseler7 karma

What's your favorite American beer?

LeifPagrotsky_14 karma

Brooklyn Bel Air Sour Ale!

lula24887 karma

What would be incentive enough for you to carry around a bowling ball for one year?

LeifPagrotsky_12 karma

World peace and eradication of poverty and cancer. Plus Sweden winning the World Cup in soccer.

tercerero6 karma

What stereotypes or misinformation do you find yourself refuting most often?

LeifPagrotsky_29 karma

The most common stereotype and misinformation I hear is that Sweden is a country of rape and violent crime, which is totally wrong.

Sarabando4 karma

Is the massive increase in violent crime in Sweden equally split between genders?

LeifPagrotsky_17 karma

This is a major misunderstanding. Statistics show there is no massive increase in violent crime in Sweden. Sexual violence has in periods been increasingly reported, but this has to do with changes in how reported offences are registered in the statistics (eg due to the Swedish Government's commitment to gender equality and the rights of women, Sweden has a broad definition of what constitutes rape).

However, most violent crimes are carried out by men.

atlor4 karma

As a seasoned diplomat, what do you think our generation can do differently to previous ones to help promote equality today?

LeifPagrotsky_10 karma

Women are more self-confident today, they can speak up and protest instead of accepting old-fashioned rules and habits, in private as well as in professional and political spheres.

Merari013 karma

What are some of the unique challenges of your position and how do you deal with them?

LeifPagrotsky_7 karma

New York has so much to offer, so much is going on all the time in so many fields, it's hard to choose what to focus on. How I deal with it? I don't. That's my problem.

Chtorrr3 karma

What is your favorite breakfast?

LeifPagrotsky_8 karma

Swedish-style porridge with my own freshly picked gooseberries!

Cloud633 karma

What is your opinion on parental leave in sweden? Should the parents have an equal amount of weeks away from work in order to make it as fair as possible or should the parents be able to decide themselves who stays home and cares for the family to best suit their situation?

LeifPagrotsky_11 karma

Parents in Sweden are allowed to up to 480 days of parental leave, 90 of which are non-transferrable. This means that they can split them evenly between them, should they wish to do so. Usually, women use most of the days, with men taking around one-fourth of the parental leave on average. I wish that fathers would take more parental leave, but I think the government should increase incentives gradually for fathers to stay home with their children.

jtfoster23 karma

I know Sweden has made a lot of progress towards equality, and is one of, if not the leader in this regard. Are there still issues, legal or cultural, regarding Women's Rights in Sweden you feel still need to be addressed?

LeifPagrotsky_1 karma

The wage gap is still a reality. Sectors dominated by women, eg healthcare and childcare, lag behind traditionally male areas.

hedgehogsinhats3 karma

Do you miss Anna Lind?

LeifPagrotsky_7 karma


mikebaputin3 karma

What is the current social debate about trans/queer/nonbinairy rights and advocacy in Sweden about at the moment and what are the legalistic steps that are being worked on?

LeifPagrotsky_14 karma

Earlier this week, the Swedish Parliament (as the first country in the world) decided to pay damages to the 600-700 people that had been forcibly sterilized as a condition to attain legal gender recognition in Sweden.

Last year, the Swedish Government also commissioned a report on transgender people in Sweden in order to improve the well-being of the community. 

newbiegamedev2 karma

Up to 8 weeks to get a personal number? I know this is not your area, but I'm on week 5 and it's killing me

LeifPagrotsky_4 karma

I think it's unacceptable.

jtfoster21 karma

What are your thoughts on the current #MeToo Movement going on here in the United States? Has anything similar happened in Sweden?

LeifPagrotsky_14 karma

Sexual harassment in professional and public environments constitute a serious threat to women’s and girls’ participation in public life, and by extension therefore becomes a fundamental question of democracy.

There is a strong metoo movement in Sweden that is still very much alive. I believe the metoo movements give rise to hope. The power of the Swedish movement shows a strength and maturity of our society that makes it possible to collectively shine light on this long invisible problem. It indicates a faith in our collective capacity to channel testimonies into change, rather than victim blaming.

whirlpoohl1 karma

What do you think the US needs to do to "level the playing field" between men and women in education and the work place?

What do you think are the most disparaging issues between men & women in US' society?

LeifPagrotsky_13 karma

I recommend subsidized childcare and parental leave.

[deleted]1 karma


LeifPagrotsky_22 karma

That is another example of fake news, there is no such law. It is increasingly common among ministers to use gender-neutral words like "God" instead of gendered words like "He," but it has nothing to do with laws.

cahaseler1 karma

What can citizens of other countries do to encourage their governments to take a progressive stance like yours?

Obviously this is an intentional policy of the Swedish government to explicitly take this stance, what led you to focus on this specifically as an issue to tackle?

LeifPagrotsky_14 karma

The Swedish government believes that gender equality is a human right and is ultimately a question of democracy, representation and social justice. At the same time, gender equality is not just about rights, it’s good for business and part of the solution to creating jobs and growth. Making use of both women’s and men’s potential contributes to economic development. In an attempt to mobilize civil society, governments, private sector, and academia from all over the world, we’re hosting a major international gender equality conference in Stockholm on April 15-17.

The MeToo movement is an example of citizens calling for action and encouraging governments to make a change. The movement is especially strong in Sweden, largely due to our tradition of joining forces for social change. We’re already seeing changes in the legislation – just this week the Swedish Government handed a proposal to the Parliament concerning a new sexual offence law, affirming that sex must be consensual.

Kishara0 karma

In the US we have a small (and awful) minority who don't appreciate women's rights. Do you have a similar contingent in Sweden? How do you deal with them if you do?

LeifPagrotsky_11 karma

Indeed, misogyny is an issue in Sweden as well, although it is a small group they do exist, and are often connected to the right-wing populist/extremist movement.

Hate speech is a serious crime and any person responsible for this will face legal consequences. The Government is working to prevent this and other types of violence against women, eg in schools and workplaces. Media also has an important role.