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Intercultural Dialogue Europe


SWEDEN

 

Major Challenges 

Increasing number of immigrants from Arab countries since the Iraq war. Despite generous state services for minorities and immigrants, they face social and economical difficulties to enter mainstream Swedish society, e.g. because of language problems and scarce working opportunities. Risk of cultural isolation of adult immigrants, especially women.

Main Interpretations

Diversity and togetherness; integration and representation; common belonging.

1. General authority

Ministry of Integration and Gender Equality
(http://www.sweden.gov.se/sb/d/8366;jsessionid=aziyw_PAkLO9)

Coordination of integration policies, diversity and minority issues.

Policies:

  • National Action Plan for Human Rights 2006-2009 sets out a coherent approach to human rights issues in Sweden. The focus of the action plan is on protection against discrimination;
  • A National Action Plan to Combat Racism, Xenophobia, Homophobia and discrimination (2000);
  • Government Bill Sweden, the Future and Diversity - from Immigration Policy to Integration Policy (1997): Positioning of diversity as a starting point for the formation and implementation of new policies in all sectors and levels.

EX: From 2000 to 2005, Swedish government granted special support to urban municipalities with large immigrant populations to make them develop and implement projects addressing social and ethnic segregation. Hundreds of projects were implemented in the areas of education, labour market, social measures, cultural activities, and democratic participation.

EYID-coordination body:

Ministry of Culture
(http://www.regeringen.se/sb/d/8339)

2. Culture

Ministry of Culture
(http://www.regeringen.se/sb/d/8339)

Policies: Since 2000, cultural institutions are asked to annually report to the Government how they promote a society characterised by respect and tolerance, and in which ethnic, cultural, language and religious diversity is used as a positive force.

EX: Year of Cultural Diversity launched in 2006, encouraging public cultural institutions to embrace diversity, also in the representation of immigrant culture among artists, staff and repertoires.

Kulturrådet - The Swedish Arts Council
(http://www.kulturradet.se/)

Provides structural support to multicultural organisations of national interest, with emphasis given to the linkage between ICD, cultural diversity and international exchange.

EX: Currently coordinates 10 regional multicultural consultants located in 9 different Regions.

PLUS: See also the Council's research document on Cultural Diversity 2005: (http://www.kulturradet.se/upload/kr/publikationer/2005/kulturell_mangfald.pdf)

Arts Institutions (EX):

Financed by the Swedish Government, acting under the auspices of the National Museums of World Culture (Statens Museer för Världskultur, http://www.smvk.se/smvk/jsp/polopoly.jsp?d=140), thus linked to a nationwide initiative aimed at adapting the collections of historical and ethnographic museums to the globalisation process, as well as to accelerating intercontinental migration and multicultural societies. The Museum perceives itself as a "forum for emotional and intellectual encounters that help people feel at home wherever they are, trust each other and accept joint responsibility for the planets constantly changing future."

  • Södra Teatern (http://www.sodrateatern.com/) For more than a decade, the theatre has a government grant/commission for presenting performing arts (typically through guest performances) reflecting global culture: ‘A meeting place for people and ideas.'

CIVIL SOCIETY:

As for Swedish civil society initiatives relating to ICD, there are many projects and organisations initiated by Churches, Trade Unions, local municipalities etc. One of the most long-running and successful is

Botkyrka Multicultural Centre
(http://www.mkc.botkyrka.se/)

Forum for research and for exchanging knowledge and experiences on migration as well as social and cultural diversity, founded in 1987. The Multicultural Centre strives to incorporate phenomena related to migration into the national heritage. Its guiding principles are ‘that no one should feel forced to deny, suppress or deprecate her own culture or identity to participate in society.'

Other EX:

Intercult
(http://www.intercult.se/)

Cultural production unit and centre for local and international activities, with support from the Swedish Arts Council, the County and the City of Stockholm. Internationally, it focusses on the Balkans and on Baltic countries, with large scale co-productions and gatherings on cultural policy. Locally and nationally they realize their own productions, arrange guest performances and run audience development programmes. It is also engaged in a collaboration with the State Museums for World Culture.

3. Education

Ministry of Education and Research
(http://www.regeringen.se/sb/d/2063)

Special means have been allocated for 2006 and 2007 in order to improve the pre-school and school situation in segregated areas. Focus is on language development.

PISA results show that (not only) in Sweden there is a considerable performance gap between native students and foreign background students. Now, politicians and policymakers look for possible reasons, e.g. by examining the accommodation and integration schemes for students with a foreign background.

The National Agency for Education
(http://www.skolverket.se/)

Central administrative authority for the Swedish public school system for children, young people and adults, as well as for preschool activities and child care for school children.

POLICIES: The curriculum declares that schools should promote understanding for other people and discrimination on all grounds is prohibited.

EX: The Child and School Student Representative will supervise compliance with the Act related to it and will be able to bring action in case of infringement.

The Swedish National Agency for School Improvement
(http://www.skolutveckling.se/)

Has been commissioned to draft a national strategy for education for immigrant children who have recently arrived in Sweden. The aim is to ensure that all children and young people will have access to equal education of high quality.

PLUS:

MOD Training Programme
(http://www.mod.nu/)

MOD stands for ‘Mångfald och Dialog' which means "Diversity and Dialogue"; it has been developed as a method of using dialogue as a means to work through relevant issues. MOD works with the knowledge and experiences that exist in the group. With conversation, workshops, brainstorming and role playing the values of the group are challenged. MOD focuses on power, identity and isolation and how they link to subjects, such as ethnicity, sexual orientation and gender. MOD is used in municipalities, schools, organisations and companies.

4. Youth

The Ministry of Integration and Gender Equality
(http://www.sweden.gov.se/sb/d/8366)

Responsible for the coordination of the Government's youth policy, issues affecting youth organisations and international cooperation in the youth field.

Swedish National Board for Youth Affairs
(http://www.ungdomsstyrelsen.se/)

Government agency that works to ensure that young people have access to power and welfare.

EX: supports a project of the Swedish Centre for International Youth Exchange (CIU) with the aim of developing tools for the recognition of intercultural learning through youth exchanges.

National Council of Swedish Youth Organisations (LSU)
(http://www.lsu.se/)

EX: Youth cooperation in Eastern Europe: On the initiative of the Swedish Government, the Swedish Inheritance Fund has granted financial support to projects in the area of Youth cooperation and multilateral exchanges between youth groups in Eastern Europe.

5. Sports

The Ministry of Culture
(http://www.sweden.gov.se/sb/d/2149/a/15519)

POLICIES: Sport pays a key role in the integration of immigrants into Swedish society and in improving Swedish understanding of foreign cultures. The sports movement is supposed to work actively for integration and foster democratic values. Since 1981, there are special programmes pertaining to sports for immigrants.

The Swedish Sports Confederation
(http://www.rf.se/)

Provides support for training ethnic minority sports leaders and for sports projects targeting such groups, while on the other hand, much policy effort goes into assimilating immigrant groups into ‘mainstream' Swedish civic society.

EX: Health improvement project in the community of Tensta, a multicultural area of Stockholm. Two-year programme focused on unemployed or early-retired (through ill-health) women from immigrant communities. The project involved 200 members of immigrant groups, among them health consultants, sport clubs, Women's Centre in Stockholm.

6. Other domestic responsibilities of importance for ICD

The Swedish Migration Board
(http://www.migrationsverket.se/english.jsp)

Central government authority for aliens' affairs. Responsible for permits for people visiting and settling in Sweden, the asylum process, citizenship affairs, coordinating the Swedish collaboration within the EU and in international organisations.

The Swedish Administrative Development Agency
(http://www.verva.se/)

Leading and coordinating a diversity and antidiscrimination project in five counties. The aim of the project is to help government agencies increase ethnic diversity in central government administration. The assignment is being conducted in consultation with the Swedish Integration Board and the Office of the Ombudsman against Ethnic Discrimination.

Ministry of Health and Social Affairs
(http://www.sweden.gov.se/sb/d/2061)

Commissioned to strengthen the capability and opportunities for social and cultural participation of people who are in economically and socially vulnerable situations and to strengthen protection of children at risk.

Office of the Ombudsman against Ethnic Discrimination
(http://www.do.se/)

Responsible for ensuring that discrimination on grounds of ethnic origin, religion or other belief does not occur in working life or other areas of society. It also monitors compliance with legislation in this field, and is required to provide advice and support to anyone who has experienced discrimination.

Delegation for Human Rights in Sweden
(http://www.manskligarattigheter.gov.se/)

Supports government agencies, municipalities and county councils in their work to ensure full respect for human rights in their activities; develops and implements strategies to increase information and knowledge about human rights in various target groups in society; stimulates public debate on human rights.

Delegation for Roma Issues
(http://www.manskligarattigheter.gov.se/)

Together with government agencies, organisations and Roma representatives, the Delegation works to improve the situation of Roma in Swedish society.

The Sámi Parliament
(http://www.sametinget.se/)

The Sami Parliament in Sweden was established in 1993 as a publicly elected body and a state authority, with the overall task of working to achieve a living Sami culture.

7. Trans-border / International ICD programmes

Official Nordic co-operation is channelled through two organisations: the Nordic Council and the Nordic Council of Ministers.

The Nordic Council
(http://www.norden.org/)

Established in 1952, the Nordic Council is the forum for Nordic parliamentary co-operation.

Cooperation activities in various sectors of society - including regional cultural cooperation - among the Nordic countries and beyond through programmes and direct funding.

EX: Norden Balkan Culture Switch (since 2003) is an extensive cultural project between the Nordic Council of Ministers and West Balkan countries in order to a) build a new interregional network, and b) to introduce the Nordic cooperation model to the Balkan region.

The Swedish Agency for International Development Cooperation (SIDA)
(http://www.sida.se/)

Government agency under the Ministry for Foreign Affairs. Sida's goal is to contribute to making it possible for poor people to improve their living conditions in their respective countries. Its head office is in Sweden and it has field offices in some 50 countries.

EX: More than forty Swedish cultural institutions - theatres, museums, universities, university colleges, cultural centres etc. - work in partnership with similar institutions in developing countries. The Swedish institutions channel Sida support to their cooperating partners in developing countries. Both partners contribute their knowledge and experience in order to alleviate poverty.




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