By Jacqueline Jin
International Women’s Day, commemorated every year on March 8, is a time to reflect on the challenges women have overcome and on the obstacles and inequality they still face today. This year’s theme, #BreakTheBias, was centered on eradicating stereotypes and discrimination, while imagining an inclusive world in which difference is celebrated rather than dismissed.
Ambassador Erik Ramanathan hosted a diverse group of Swedish female leaders where they discussed their organizations’ accomplishments as well as the stereotypes and biases they still face, and their leadership goals for the next year. One guest viewed International Women’s Day as “Feminist New Year’s Eve,” when all can reflect and look back at the progress made to date and set future goals. As female entrepreneurs, the guests discussed the challenges and frustrations of women-led companies receiving substantially less capital from investors as compared to male-led companies, even in a country as progressive as Sweden. Both the ambassador and the leaders agreed on the need for more role models and mentors.
The embassy hosted a separate discussion between Deputy Chief of Mission Pam Tremont and guest speaker Petra Tötterman Andorff, secretary general of Kvinna till Kvinna (Woman to Woman). Both Tremont and Tötterman Androff discussed how their organizations can continue to break the bias and support women in the workplace to create better work-life balance. One employee noted that although many women are rising to the senior ranks today, many of them are still expected to take on a disproportionate share of duties at home.
The U.S. and Sweden can learn much from each other and can help one another further gender equality. Embassy Stockholm discussed future collaborations to support the advancement of women through public diplomacy programs and other opportunities.
Jacqueline Jin is an office management specialist for the political/economic section and volunteer Federal Women’s Program coordinator at Embassy Stockholm.