Author: Paulina Neuding

Self-Harm Versus the Greater Good: Greta Thunberg and Child Activism

Greta is eleven years old and has gone two months without eating. Her heart rate and blood pressure show clear signs of starvation. She has stopped speaking to anyone but her parents and younger sister, Beata.  After years of depression, eating disorders, and anxiety attacks, she finally receives a medical diagnosis: Asperger’s syndrome, high-functioning autism, and OCD. She also suffers from selective mutism—which explains why she sometimes can’t speak to anyone outside her closest family. When she wants to tell a climate researcher that she plans a school strike on behalf of the environment, she speaks through her father. The book Scenes from the Heart (“Scener från Hjärtat,” 2018) recounts these medical difficulties and the events that led to Greta Thunberg’s now-famous “school strike for climate,” in which hundreds of thousands of children have refused to attend school to protest about government inaction over climate change. Greta herself strikes every Friday and spent three weeks sitting outside the Swedish Parliament at the beginning of the school year. Written by her family—mother, father, Beata and Greta—the …

Sweden’s General Election Turmoil

Sweden’s general elections will happen this weekend and the country is in political turmoil. The governing Social Democrats, the hegemonic force in Swedish politics for most of the past century, are facing their lowest results since the introduction of democracy. Only a few percentage points behind them in the polls are the Sweden Democrats (SD) – an anti-immigration and anti-EU party – which may become the country’s biggest political group. The polls thus confirm a fundamental shift in Swedish politics: SD – which is shunned by the other parties, who refer to its roots in the far-right movement – only entered the Riksdag after the 2010 elections, to the astonishment of large parts of the political and media establishment. Since 2014, SD forms a wedge in parliament, preventing both traditional blocs, led by the Social Democrats and the center-right Moderates respectively, from gaining a majority of seats. Both refuse to govern with each other, or with the support of SD. This is uncharted territory, and no one knows how, or by whom, the country will be …

Sweden’s Sexual Assault Crisis Presents a Feminist Paradox

Sweden prides itself on being a beacon of feminism. It has the most generous parental leave in the developed world, providing for 18 months off work, 15 of which can be used by fathers as paternity leave. A quarter of the paid parental leave is indeed used by men, and this is too little according to the Swedish government, which has made it a political priority to get fathers to stay at home longer with their children. Sweden has never ranked lower than four in The Global Gender Gap Report, which has measured equality in economics, politics, education, and health for the World Economic Forum since 2006. Of all members of Parliament, 44 percent are women, compared to 19 percent of the United States Congress. Nearly two-thirds of all university degrees are awarded to women. Its government boasts that it is the “first feminist government” in the world, averring that gender equality is central to its priorities in decision-making and resource allocation. But while Swedish women rank among the most equal in the world, they increasingly …