Politicians in Stockholm said the policy of “gender-equal” snow removal has failed after the weather brought Sweden’s capital to a standstill last week, with hospitals reporting a fourfold increase in broken bones.
The city switched to a “feminist” system of clearing snow last winter but last week’s burst of snow, which threw the city into chaos, has cast doubt on its effectiveness.
Hundreds of thousands of people were affected, with the majority of bus routes put out of service and commuters having to wait in queues for several hours.
Previously, fresh snowfalls were cleared first from main roads and by areas like construction sites before being removed from pavements and cycle lanes. As men are more likely to drive and women more likely to travel on foot, more women slipped on the ice which led to complaints that the system was sexist.
Vice-mayor of Stockholm, the Green Party’s Daniel Helldén, admitted that “equality snow removal” had failed the city, and apologised to residents who had injured themselves as a result.
When the Red-Green coalition, comprising politicians from the Social Democratic Party, Green Party, Left Party, and Feminist Initiative, were elected to City Hall in 2014 the introduction of a “feminist” snow clearance was high on the agenda.
But police last week said the system is so bad, with ambulances unable to make their way along Stockholm’s roads, it posed a danger to society. Officer Fredrik Ståhle branded the conditions for drivers in the city “deplorable”.
Opposition vice-mayor Cecilia Brinck called the concept of “gender-equal” snow removal “a little silly”. The Moderate party politician said despite the promise that feminist snow-clearing would make life better for women, its implementation made the weather “bad for everyone”.
Per Ossmer and Martin Westmont from the Sweden Democrats said that the city’s snow clearance plan should not be “characterised by a feminist perspective”.
Speaking for the populist party in a piece for Stockholm Direkt, the pair advised that politicians prioritise delivering an effective transport system over investing “considerable resources” in “gender certifying” various services.