At Sweden’s initiative, Johan Bävman’s photo exhibition Swedish Dads was on display at the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) in Paris for several weeks in March and April. The exhibition shows 25 fathers on parental leave, and offers a snapshot of Swedish dads’ views on parental leave and gender equality. Some 10 000–15 000 people saw the exhibition at the OECD.

The exhibition has attracted a great deal of attention and appreciation. While the exhibition was on display, fathers working for the Delegation of Sweden to the OECD, or with links to it, devoted a day to acting as “Swedish dads at Swedish Dads”, providing information about parental leave and gender equality issues.

The exhibition has been raised by other OECD Member countries in various meeting formats and, as such, has contributed to more formal discussions on how to promote gender equality and how greater gender equality can shape society.

The Delegation’s initiative to hold the exhibition at the OECD aims to further strengthen Sweden’s already strong role in supporting and developing OECD gender equality work. Sweden advocates a fully gender-mainstreamed approach in the OECD’s work in all policy areas. It also believes that the OECD should consistently present gender-disaggregated data, so as to highlight gaps and opportunities in gender equality issues.

In the OECD, Sweden often highlights the fact that gender equality is not only positive from a societal perspective, but also smart in economic terms. This was also emphasised by Sweden’s Ambassador to the OECD Annika Markovic in a panel discussion on gender equality held on 8 March, International Women’s Day. She also highlighted Sweden’s feminist foreign policy, which focuses on women’s rights, resources and representation. Ambassador Markovic also gave examples of Swedish reforms that have contributed to a more gender-equal society, including the parental insurance system, the expansion of the preschool system and the individual taxation scheme.

For many years the OECD has worked actively on gender equality, and this year’s Ministerial Council Meeting in early June will feature a review of OECD Member countries’ gender equality efforts and of the situation in a range of policy areas from a gender equality perspective.

Since OECD activities span more or less all policy areas, the organisation is well placed to work for gender equality in an integrated manner. One example of this is the recent launch of a network, primarily involving representatives of Member countries’ finance ministries, focusing on gender budgeting. Integrating a gender perspective into central government budgets creates more concrete and operative opportunities to achieve greater gender equality.

The OECD has an important role in providing data, statistics and facts, and these are often the starting point for decisions on necessary change. An example of this is the OECD’s Social Institutions and Gender Index (SIGI), which shows that discrimination against women in terms of access to rights, justice, resources and empowerment is high or very high in 38 of 108 countries studied.

The OECD is also conducting extensive gender equality work in development cooperation, and in 2016 the organisation joined the Call to Action on Protection from Gender-based Violence in Emergencies. This means strengthening mutual learning, promoting policy development and, as of this year, reporting data on development aid used to combat violence against women.

Jörgen Karlsson, Deputy Head of Mission, Delegation of Sweden to the OECD