Study visit to Sweden
The study visit to Sweden was organized from 17 to 22 June 2007. In it took part municipal representatives from the three countries participating in the project. The Bulgarian delegation consisted of representatives of the Municipality and Municipal Council of Sofia, the Municipality and Municipal Council of Veliko Turnovo, the Municipality of Plovdiv and the Center of Women Studies and Policies.
The multinational group had the opportunity to visit a number of Swedish institutions at central and local level - Equality Ombudsman's Office, Ministry of the Integration and Gender Equality, "Stockholm Jämt" (Regional State Office), Municipality of Fagersta, and had a meeting with an officer from the Swedish Police Trafficking Department. Associations and non-governmental organizations related to local governance and/or gender were also included in the agenda.
The framework of Swedish gender equality legislation and policy and its strategic objectives, Swedish gender equality legislation, the institutional mechanism and relevant statistical data were part of the topics discussed during the meeting at the Equality Ombudsman's Office. The gender experts at the Swedish Association of Local Authorities and Regions presented different projects and initiatives at local level. During the meting at the regional administration in Stockholm the participants were introduced with a large scale initiative - municipal gender equality platform - uniting most of the municipalities in the region and focused on various aspects of gender inequalities revealed in spheres like education, healthcare, business etc.
The participants visited the kindergarten "The miller", Järfälla Municipality where they had the opportunity to see how programs on gender equality are developed and implemented. This visit was one of the most valuable from the point of view of practical experience.
Good practices for cooperation between the local NGOs and police/prosecution as well as the local authorities in handling cases of violence against women and the so called cases of "honor related violence" was shared during the meeting with the representatives of Kvinnoforum - one of the most famous and respected women's NGO in Sweden.
The Municipality of Fagersta demonstrated different gender equality measures implemented at local level in response of identified by the citizens needs and problems where the local governance could undertake actions - day care centers, schools, municipal facilities for sport and recreation, day care centers for old persons, encouragement of local women entrepreneurs.
The municipal administration addresses the need of the community to combat acts of violence against women and supports together with another municipality a shelter for women victims of domestic violence managed by a local non-governmental organization and involving many volunteers, as well as a youth organization working with young girls and focused on raising their awareness for prevention of violence.
The last day the participants had a meeting in the Ministry of the Integration and Gender Equality. They were acquainted with the mechanisms for implementation of gender mainstreaming and gender budgeting at central administration level as well as with the coordination of the gender equality national institutional mechanism.
The study visit was assessed by the participants as extremely useful from point of view of information received, experiences shared and contacts established between the participants and representatives of the visited NGOs, local and central administrations.
The project entitled "Equality for Local Development: Gender Mainstreaming in Municipalities" (2006-2007) is financed and implemented within the Community Programme relating to the Community Framework Strategy in Gender Equality (2001-2005). Sole responsibility for the contents of this publication lies with the authors, the Commission is not responsible for any use that may be made of the information contained there.
The project is supported in part by a grant from Foundation Open Society Institute (Zug).