Sweden’s environment minister has said reducing car numbers is a feminist issue as well as a matter of meeting carbon emissions targets, saying male drivers occupy space in Swedish cities ‘at women’s expense’.
Lamenting that urban planning committees have ‘put the car on a pedestal’ in the last 50 years, Karolina Skog insisted it’s vital that cities find ways to reduce the number of cars on the road.
“The car is a flexible mode of transport, and people find it nice to travel around in their own bubble,” the minister told Göteborgs-Posten. “But the main drawback is that they’re ineffective.
“A normal car in Sweden stands still for 97 per cent of its lifetime and for every car there are eight parking spaces and many miles of road. You can’t call that effective.”
Ms. Skog said that reducing the number of cars on the road is a gender issue because their prevalence in Swedish cities results in men taking space away from women.
“Cars are driven largely by men so by giving a lot of space to cars; we’re giving a lot of space to men — at the expense of women,” she explained.
Under the city’s current transport strategy, Gothenburg aims to cut the number of cars on the road by 25 per cent by 2035.
The minister praised the target but said that it’s difficult to judge whether it will be sufficient in the long term.
“But we have to reduce car trips if we are to meet the emissions targets, and it’s in cities that the possibility to do this exists.”
Feminism in the field of transport policy isn’t new in Sweden, which prides itself on having the world’s “first feminist government”, its website explaining: “This means that gender equality is central to the Government’s priorities – in decision-making and resource allocation.”
In November, however, Stockholm’s policy of “gender-neutral snow ploughing” was called into question after the city was plunged into chaos with hospitals reporting a fourfold increase in broken bones.
Under the previous system, fresh snowfalls were first cleared from main roads and by areas like construction sites before being removed from pavements.
Because men are more likely to drive and women more likely to travel on foot, more women slipped on the ice, which led to complaints that the system was sexist.
Police branded the results of the feminist policy “deplorable”, and said that with ambulances unable to make their way along Stockholm’s roads, it posed a danger to society.
Introducing a feminist system of snow clearance was high on the agenda when Stockholm’s Red-Green coalition was elected to City Hall in 2014. But even the Green vice-mayor admitted “equality snow removal” had failed the city, and apologised to residents who’d been injured amidst the chaos it caused in November.