Several women’s rights groups have formed professional organizations in order to get their voices heard by the respective authorities.
Many of them are just organizations that organize peaceful protests or rallies demanding amendments to legislation or the passing of new laws. Some of them go around their cities spreading their message and creating feminist adverts and public addresses. Many smaller ones are just used to congregate and share their messages amongst their followers.
But some feminist organizations decide to become politically active and they attempt to push through their demands by acquiring political clout. They will encourage their members to be intelligent and politically aware in hopes of gaining a representative in a position of power in order to help fulfil some of their demands. It will also be a boost to their public image as it will afford them some credibility in the eyes of the general public.
In Sweden, a small feminist party called “Feministiskt Initiativ” or “Feminist Initiative” are beginning to make waves in European politics.
They espouse 3 major ideologies – anti-racism, feminism and intersectional feminism.
Founded in 2005, the Female Initiative is a political party derived from a pressure group of the same name. Since September 9th, they have become a part of Sweden’s voting process, first taking part in the following year’s elections; they ran for parliament seats. Despite participating in 2 Swedish parliamentary elections and the European elections, they didn’t win a single seat in either. Their popularity had taken a major hit due to some more radical and man-hating aspects of their members and some rather extreme policies they wanted passed in Sweden.
However, in the most recent European elections the party garnered 5.3% of Swedish votes and a Soraya Post filled in their single European parliament seat. They’d finally gotten one!They then joined the Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats in Europe.
Formed by the agglomeration of several women’s rights groups, Feminist Initiative was a pressure group that picked up in size and popularity very quickly once popular female rights champion Gudrun Schyman joined them. Once the group reached 2500 members and several regional and local groups around Sweden, it was decided that the association was large enough to run for parliament seats. In the first Fi conference about 300 women (with no real structure) met up and inaugurated the birth of the feminist party.
Their views were focused upon by media; especially the “Cohabitation Act”. This was a bill that the feminist movement wanted passed in Swedish law, which would essentially extend the legal usage of the word “marriage” to any form of civil cohabitation. This would mean that the Swedish law system would now inherently condone polygamy or homosexual marriage – the two less common forms of marriage.
Predicted to get 10% of the electors’ vote in the first elections they contested, Fi only managed a miserly 0.68%, and no parliament seats. This was reportedly due to some of their more radical arguments being exposed.
The party has also accepted women from other parties to come in and swell its ranks. Maria Carlshamre left the Liberal People’s Party on the 1st of March 2006 and joined the growing Fi. Her reason? She felt that her party didn’t give enough attention to women’s concerns. There was “a lack of consideration for feminist issues amongst her former colleagues”, according to her. She thus joined a group of women who took femininst issues very seriously.
Other famous personalities have given the group their backing; Jane Fonda and Eve Ensler lent their support to the party during their 2005 election tour. The former even went so far as to donate over 400,000 Swedish Kronor for their campaign, such was her approval of their ideals. In 2009, Benny Anderson, a member of the famous group ABBA (they sang Mama Mia) donated ONE MILLION Swedish Kronor for their European Parliament campaign.
Fi have shown time and time again that they are stead-fast and will do anything to be heard and listened to. In July 2010, the party wished to stage a protest against unequal pay for men and women in Sweden. They did something astonishing – they burnt almost $13,000 dollars (100,000 Swedish Kronor)!
The money had been donated to them by a Swedish Advertising agency, and the event was widely publicised. They had got their message across
Despite their small numbers and the fact that they currently only run 4 Swedish Municipalities (out of over 12,000), the Fi is really on the up and will be looking to make great strides for the people they represent. They have had some success in the past, forcing the government to make artificial insemination legal for all lesbian couples (not just married ones) and changing homosexual marriage from a “registered relationship” to a real, legal marriage. Step by step, they were gaining ground and making people’s lives better. Many of their meetings regarding policy and/or propaganda were staged in their member’s homes because of lack of funds
Soraya Post, a Swedish Roma, is a hard-line activist that will represent the pink of Fi in the European Parliament. She is a firm opponent of fascism and all it stands for – especially because it highlights the traditional role of women in the house. She’s a strong woman who wants to make sure that Roma all over Europe stop being treated like second-class citizens ad get their due rights.
As Europe faces more and more problems to tackle, smaller groups like Fi will be getting their chance to impress their people. It will be up to them to show us they can do it, but with their hard work and endeavour so far, there’s no stopping the plucky feminists in parliament.