Concepts, Research, Policy
Edited by Sylvia Chant
Chapter 78: Sweden to the Rescue? Fitting Brown Women into a Poverty Framework
Katja Jassey Introduction For anyone working inside, outside or alongside Swedish development it soon becomes apparent that the Swedes take a pride in being gender-aware and international promoters of gender equality. Swedish development organisations at all levels are dominated by a very specific homogenous group, comprising persons with middle-class, liberal-leftist values, of Swedish ethnic origin, and often members of a so-called nuclear family. Hence, the only structural form of oppression and inequality that most of these people can personally relate to is gender, or sex. This is by no means unique in Europe. It is these people who get to frame some of the more dominant development discourses, who get to say who is deserving of aid and who is not. And in Sweden ‘women’ have held a frontrunner position for ages in terms of being deserving of aid. I have also taken part in these processes, shaped and carefully crafted out the words that would guide the Swedish International Development Agency (Sida) in its efforts to reduce poverty. As a bureaucrat working for the Swedish government’s aid agency I had at that time not yet fully grasped what makes up the fuel of a policy – the ingredients we need in order to motivate people into action. Together with my close colleagues, I somewhat naively thought that if we got the ‘facts’ right the policy would be able to lend some support and direction in terms of choices in the future, be it regarding approaches or what and whom to...
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