Sweden’s new Minister for Foreign Affairs, Tobias Billström, announced that Sweden will no longer call its foreign policy ‘feminist’. Sweden was the first country to implement a feminist foreign policy, starting in 2014, which featured sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR) as one of six objectives. As a consequence of the decision to no longer label the foreign policy feminist, annual action plans for the feminist foreign policy will no longer be issued. Nonetheless, the Government has made clear that aims to prioritise women’s and girl’s rights and SRHR through ODA as well as by being a strong international voice. These priorities were reflected in the new Swedish framework for international development cooperation, called the Reform agenda, that was published in December 2023. The Agenda has brought about significant shifts in priorities, with the highest priority given to Ukraine and “neighbourhood countries”, to link development policy with migration policy and to create synergies between development cooperation and Swedish trade.
The ambitions of the conservative – liberal Government around gender and SRHR have, however, not yet been reflected in funding priorities. The letter of appropriation to Sida 2024 contained no new assignment to Sida linked to gender equality or SRHR, apart from a reporting assignment for the Action Plan for women and peace and security. Core support for UN Women and UNAIDS decreased and core support to UNFPA remains at the same level as in 2023, when the budget was cut by 25%. The new conservative – liberal Government has abandoned Sweden’s previous commitment to allocate 1% of GNI to ODA. The new Government has introduced a revised framework that guarantees a fixed annual ODA budget of 5.3 billion Euros (SEK 56 billion) for the years 2023-2025. In terms of Swedish Crowns (SEK), the ODA budget for 2023 remains roughly at the same level as in 2022, constituting approximately 0.88% of GNI. These cuts follow reductions made by the Social democratic Government in 2022, when significant portions of funds were redirected towards initiatives in Ukraine and to in-country refugee costs in Sweden.
Policies & funding
In December 2023, a new Swedish framework for international development cooperation, called the Reform agenda, was published. Out of the seven thematic priority areas, three are linked to SRHR: Health of the most marginalised, where SRHR is a key focus area; Freedom and fighting oppressions and human rights, including SRHR and LGBTIQ+ rights; and Women and girl’s freedoms and empowerment, were SRHR is one of two focus areas.
In November 2023, Sweden committed to additional humanitarian aid worth 14.1 million Euros (150 million) SEK to Gaza, out of which a significant proportion is earmarked for UNFPA.
In 2022, a new Strategy for sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR) in Africa was adopted. The strategy will apply in 2022–2026 and provide a total of 350 million Euros (SEK 3 500 million). The Swedish government also launched a comprehensive written SRHR dialogue material, along with two SRHR online e-learning modules, for all Sida and MFA staff.
In 2022, Sweden spent about 169 million Euros on sexual and reproductive health and family planning (SRH/FP) funding, which represents a decrease compared to 2021. Funding to SRHR was also curtailed, amounting to 252 million Euros. Funding to UNFPA also decreased by 15% in 2022, and amounting to 108 million Euros for SRH/FP and 109 million for SRHR. Sweden is thus no longer the European government that mostly supports the agency.
In 2022, Sweden continued to emphasise SRHR in international conferences, initiatives and negotiations. This included the EU-negotiations, CSW and the Transforming Education Summit (TES). At the TES, Sweden underscored the need to promote comprehensive sexuality education (CSE) in international development cooperation and that CSE is “an indispensable tool for promoting tolerance, mutual respect and non-violence in relationships”. At CSW 2022, Sweden supported a joint RFSU-RFSL event on the topic of inclusive SRHR responses to the climate crisis.
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 around 83 million Euros (SEK 871 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 2022-2023-Sweden.pdf
- Government presents new direction for development assistance: Development assistance for a new era – freedom, empowerment and sustainable growth
- Swedish Strategy for sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR) in Africa 2022-25
- SRHR dialogue for change material
- Sida’s SRHR e-learning
- Sweden – Every Women Every Child Commitment