Sweden’s ‘Gender-Equal’ Snow Clearing Approach Ends In Chaos

REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque

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Jacob Bojesson Foreign Correspondent
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Politicians blame a new “gender equal” snow plowing policy for the Swedish capital of Stockholm’s failure to clear roads during the season’s first snow fall.

Stockholm’s center-left government introduced a new “gender equal” approach to clearing the roads of snow last year. The policy states that sidewalks, public transport and bicycle lanes should be cleared before turning attention to the roads. The reason is that women are more likely to use sidewalks while men are overrepresented among commuters driving to work.

When the first major snow storm swept the capital last week, traffic went into a standstill as no one cleared the streets. People couldn’t get to work, schools had to close and commuters were stuck in traffic for hours without moving.

“Some parts haven’t been touched at all, and it’s equally bad for everyone,” conservative opposition member Cecilia Brinck told public broadcaster SVT.

Daniel Helldén, the city’s Green Party head of transportation, said the policy had nothing to do with the chaos. He instead suggests that there was a lack of gender equality in the snow clearing effort.

“There is a lack of gender equal snow-clearing now, according to the reports I’m getting,” he said. “It’s still difficult to walk on the pavements — and it is important that snow-clearing prioritizes walkways, public transport and cycle paths.”

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