In 1968 Sweden became the first country in the world to frame a government policy of achieving equality between the sexes by changing the role of men as well as that of women. In a statement to the United Nations that year the Swedish government had declared that it was not enough to guarantee women their rights. All legislation and all social policy must support a shift from man-the-breadwinner and woman-the-homemaker to a society of independent individuals and of partnerships in which all tasks were shared:

The aim of a long-term "programme for women" must be that every individual, irrespective of sex, shall have the same practical opportunities, not only for education and employment, but also in principle the same responsibility for his or her own maintenance as well as shared responsibility for the upbringing of children and the upkeep of the home .... The government is well aware that this view appears revolutionary and unrealistic in the eyes of the representatives of many other countries. A growing opinion in Sweden has, however, rallied to its support. 1

In Sweden as in other Scandinavian countries, the statement continued, a debate had already been under way for six or seven years concerning the division of roles between women and men in the home and in society, and had resulted in a departure from "the traditional habit of regarding these problems as 'women's questions.'"