Sweden remains committed to sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR) as a prioritised area within development cooperation and the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.
In 2021 there were several Swedish government crises and the political situation is likely to remain unstable until the upcoming parliamentary elections to be held in September 2022. Except for two political parties currently represented in the parliament, there is a strong commitment to keeping a high level of ODA (minimum 1% GNI). The majority of the parliamentarians are in favour of a continued strong focus on gender equality in Swedish Foreign Policy.
Policies & funding
Sweden was the first country to implement a Feminist foreign policy, starting in 2014, which features SRHR as one of six objectives. In the annual action plan for the Feminist Foreign Policy there is always one chapter specifically dedicated to SRHR, which is also an integrated topic in several other chapters. The 2020 Action plan for the feminist foreign policy points out that the foreign service will work for everyone’s access to SRHR in all relevant forums. The 2020 action plan included stronger language than ever on SRHR in humanitarian settings.
Since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic the Government has made clear that the pandemic has not changed the core elements of the Swedish Feminist Foreign Policy and ODA. Holistic and human rights-based approaches, equal health, gender equality and SRHR will remain key priorities. The importance of Universal Health Coverage (UHC) and health systems strengthening has been also emphasised. Together with South Africa, Sweden mobilised a high-level joint statement signed by 58 states, for protecting SRHR and Promoting Gender-responsiveness in the COVID-19 crisis. In 2020, additional “SRHR and Covid -19” investments and programmes were announced and country level investments such as this one for Bangladesh have followed.
In 2020, Sweden dedicated 1.14 % of its GNI to ODA, making the country the largest donor in proportion to the size of its economy. The Swedish budget proposal for 2020 included a significant allocation to ODA; around € 5.6 billion. In 2020, Sweden spent about €186 million on sexual and reproductive health and family planning (SRH/FP) funding, a 25% increase compared to 2019. Over the past decade, there has been a steady increase in Sweden’s core contribution to multilateral organisations, including for UNFPA, to which Sweden commits funding over a 4-year period. The contribution 2018-2021 to UNFPA is SEK 2.46 billion (around € 240 million), a total increase of 24% compared to 2014-17. In 2020 Sweden was in fact the European government with the largest contribution to this agency, amounting to €123 million.
The country's contribution to the Global Fund (2020 pledge for 2020-22) is Sweden’s second-largest in the multilateral context. Violations of SRHR were put forward as key reasons behind the contribution. This disbursement, in addition to other essential interventions on safe abortion, prevention of SGBV and actions LGBIT+ groups, brings Swedish contribution to SRHR in 2020 up to a total of €294 million.
Sweden continues to emphasise SRHR in international conferences, initiatives and negotiations. This includes the EU-negotiations, the Generation Equality Forum (GEF) and the Commission on Population and Development (CPD). In 2020, Sweden continued being focused on enabling the EU to take a progressive stance on SRHR, including by remaining vocal on SRHR throughout the 2021 negotiations on the EU Council Conclusions on the Gender Action Plan (GAP III) and on Human Development. The country also had a leading role in the development of the Team Europe initiative on SRHR in Sub-Saharan Africa.
At the 2021 Commission on the Status of Women, the Swedish Minister for Gender Equality, Märta Stenevi, underscored the importance of the key components of SRHR being available to all persons. The Swedish government made a public commitment to SRHR during the Paris Forum of the Generation Equality Forum (GEF) which also highlighted the incorporation of SRHR language in all Swedish bilateral country strategies and in its new Global humanitarian strategy. At the GEF, Sweden committed to SEK 871 million (around €83 million) to SRHR in 2021, including “support to focus on the neglected areas of comprehensive SRHR such as comprehensive abortion care and new support under the new strategies”.
- Country factsheet with tracking data 2020-21
- Feminist foreign policy
- The 2020 Action plan for the feminist foreign policy
- The Handbook on feminist foreign policy (2018)
- The regional policy strategy for SRHR in Sub- Saharan Africa – prolonged to 2021
- Sweden - Every Women Every Child Commitment
Updated January 2022
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