Meeting students and visiting NGO:s are some of the most inspiring tasks in my calendar. Last week I had the opportunity to do both.
“Federacja na rzecz Kobiet i Planowania Rodziny” is an organisation promoting sexual and reproductive health and rights http://www.federa.org.pl/ e.g. through advocacy and legal support but also through education in these matters by volunteers. These are issues that I have been working a lot with before and are crucial in all societies not least because of early pregnancies, the lack of education in schools, difficulties to access contraceptives and unsafe abortions. I am always impressed when I meet committed people trying to do something about it in practice.
I addressed similar themes when meeting students at the Wrocław University where I gave a lecture on gender equality at the Institue for Political Science: http://www.swedenabroad.com/pl-PL/Embassies/Warsaw/Wiadomoci-i-wydarzenia/Wiadomoci/Ambasador-Szwecji-odwiedzi-Wrocaw-i-Olenic–sys/
Later the same day I had the opportunity to convey more or less the same messages in Oleśnica at a meeting chaired by the City Mayor. My visit was triggered by the ongoing “Sweden Days” in the region of Dolny Śląsk, arranged by the Polish-Swedish Organisation “Tillsammans” and the chairperson Elżbieta Towarnicka.
The meeting with the students could have continued much longer. Many questions in both meetings, some of them quite challenging. Are not the conditions very different in countries like Sweden and Poland? Can we afford similar systems as in Sweden? What should be the role of the state in family policy?
I tried to stress some fundamental messages. Like the importance of the women’s movement for the progress we have seen. The state can and should do a lot but change will not start there. The expansion of day care for children for instance would, as I see it, never have developed as it did without a strong pressure from the civil society. Another fundamental message was obviously about the crucial importance of financial independence of women and a third about the recurrent theme in all my speeches in this area: the importance of engaging men, seeing men as fathers, the Swedish experience that “Daddy’s months” i.e. paternal leave reserved for men are key incentives for change.
My programme also included a meeting with Swedish companies at Volvo, organised by our Honorary Consul Małgorzata Ryniak. Excellent opportunity to learn, not least about the environmental work on green solutions that is ongoing in several companies, Volvo being one of them.
Before the end of the week I also briefly participated in a seminar on Impact assessment analysis organised jointly by the Prime Minister’s Office, State Secretary Adam Jasser, and the Nordic-Baltic Embassies. The theme might sound a bit technical but it is crucial for quality in decision making. My Danish colleague Steen Hommel and his staff had been most instrumental in coordinating the event but several experts participated including Stefan Ernlund from the Swedish Agency for Economic and Regional Growth (Tillväxtverket) sharing experiences on simplification of rules affecting the private sector – better regulation.
Another week ahead of me this Monday morning.
It starts in a reasonably calm way today – that is for me; the Swedish Minister of Finance presenting the Spring Fiscal Policy Bill in Stockholm will have more to do for sure…
I can still feel the positive effects of yesterday’s jogging and can just hope that the will last also when things are speeding up tomorrow and the days that follow. Tuesday will see a regular visit by our colleagues from the Swedish Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Isabella Törngren and Jan Amberg. Followed by participation in the Polish Morning TV “Kawa czy herbata” Wednesday. Followed by the Swedish Language Days in Poznań Thursday.
That is about as far I feel able to plan the upcoming week today. But spring is slowly arriving to Warsaw. That makes life much easier and much brighter.