Sweden Rolls Out ‘Gender Equal Snow Ploughs’

AP Photo/CTK, Radek Petrasek
AP Photo/CTK, Radek Petrasek

Swedish municipalities have started snow ploughing their streets “gender equally”. The practice was first adopted in Karlskoga in central Sweden, but has since caught on across the country, including in Stockholm.

Under the old system, fresh snowfalls were cleared first from main roads, then by areas where men typically worked, such as construction sites, and lastly where pedestrians and cyclists were. As more men than women drive in Sweden, women tended to have more accidents by slipping on the ice, The Local has reported.

After reviewing the system, Karlskoga decided to prioritise day care centres, where parents typically take their children first thing in the morning, then areas where the majority of people work, regardless of gender, then schools, and lastly main roads. The change of order did not incur any extra costs.

The municipality found that doing so meant that access was better for everyone, particularly children, after a fresh snowfall. Consequently, the practice has caught on elsewhere in the country.  Stockholm, Karlstad, Botkyrka, Umeå, and Huddinge are amongst the municipalities to follow suit, with others taking up the practice all the time.

“We regularly get new reports. Now Järfälla is going to start ploughing their streets gender equally. (…) It has spread quite quickly,” Magnus Jacobsson, a ‘sustainable equality officer’ in Sweden’s Association of Local Authorities and Regions (SKL), told Swedish Radio.

“From our perspective we obviously want to support our members so that they can provide as good a service as possible to their citizens, both women, men, girls and boys. Clearing the snow for both women and men is included in that. This policy improves access for everyone who does not drive.”