Interview with Swedish Minister for International Development, Hillevi Maria Engström

Date: Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Swedish minister Hillevi Maria Engström. Photo credit: Jann Lipka
Swedish Minister for International Development, Hillevi Maria Engström. Photo: Jann Lipka

On 25 November, the Government of Sweden announced additional end-of-year core funding of SEK 70 million (USD 10.66 million) for UN Women. This adds to Sweden’s existing contribution of USD 8.68 million – bringing its overall 2013 contribution to approximately USD 19.3 million, and making it the second-highest donor to the organization’s core budget. In an interview, Swedish Minister for International Development, Hillevi Maria Engström, explains why her Government believes UN Women’s work is such an important priority for its multilateral aid.

Why did the Swedish Government choose to allocate an additional USD 10 million to UN Women?

Gender equality and women's role in development is a particular priority in Swedish development cooperation. Violence against women exists everywhere but girls and women living in poor or conflict-affected countries are particularly vulnerable. Change will never come about if we do not work on a broad front and mobilize international joint forces. We must work together with other like-minded countries and organizations to make a difference.

Why is UN Women the best fit for channeling your development assistance?

The Swedish Government played an active role in the founding of UN Women. The organization has an important and unique mandate in terms of leading and coordinating the entire UN system’s gender equality-based work – a mission that we truly value and prioritize. Swedish aid also has a strong focus on results, and UN Women has been able to demonstrate several positive outputs in different activity areas. Earlier this year, Sweden contributed with approximately USD 8.3 million. Since we value UN Women’s important work, we will now contribute an additional USD 10 million.

Why is gender equality important to your Government?

Gender equality is in general extremely important to the Swedish Government and especially in the context of development aid. Not only do equal rights between women and men have intrinsic value, but they are also a crucial means to combat poverty. 

How do women’s empowerment and gender equality feature in your multilateral aid policy?

Gender equality and women’s role for development is one of the Swedish Government’s primary thematic priorities in development aid. These important rights perspectives are thus integrated into all allocations, interventions and efforts. We channel a big part of our development assistance through multilateral organizations (about 50 per cent). The conditions allow the Swedish Government to systematically advocate and convey its main priorities such as equal rights and women’s role in development. 

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