Gender equality is at the heart of Sweden’s international agenda. The government on August 23 issued a handbook of its “feminist foreign policy” for human rights groups and foreign governments.

Published on the government’s website in English, the manual highlights lessons from Sweden’s approach to promoting women’s rights globally.

As reported by the Agence France-Presse (AFP), Sweden began its feminist foreign policy “in response to the discrimination and systematic subordination that still mark the daily lives of countless women and girls around the world”.

“One starting point is that gender equality is an objective in itself, but it is also essential for achieving the Government’s other overall objectives, such as peace, security and sustainable development,” the handbook says.

Led since its inception in 2014 by Foreign Minister Margot Wallstrom, its goals include the promotion of economic emancipation, fighting sexual violence and improving women’s political participation.

“We were met with mixed reactions including a bunch of giggling in the first days and outspoken resistance,” Wallstrom told told a news conference in Stockholm. “We’ve constantly heard ‘these are just pretty words’, so this is why (the handbook) is important.”