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  • Human Rights Research Center

Sexual and Reproductive Health Series: A Public Health Perspective Part 2

August 15, 2023

Part 2: Sexual and Reproductive Health in Sweden

A leader in sexual and reproductive health (SRH), Sweden is a pinnacle of success. Located in Scandinavia, Sweden embodies neutrality in world government. The Swedish welfare system, created in the 1930s, provides citizens with free health care, including unemployment, childcare, schools, elder care, and at least five weeks of paid vacation per year [4]. A well-oiled machine, the country’s policies on health and wellness are reflected in its progress on sexual health.

A map of Sweden.

Teaching sex education has been compulsory since 1955, as led by Riksförbundet för Sexuell Upplysning [5], or the Swedish Association of Sexuality Education, with the successful implementation largely due to school educators open to answering SRH questions posed by students [5]. Ungdomsmottagningar, or youth clinics for ages 12-25, are available across the country, offering free services while promoting SRH through school visits and outreach activities [3]. Run by the Stockholm City Council, additional youth service websites like offer information on not just sexual health and personal identity but mental health as well [3]. These social platforms open dialogue to the complex conversations of SRH without restriction.

However, not all Swedish people are “enriched” by SRH. With globalization at its highest, in addition to the refugee crisis, migrant families and youths have slowly moved to Sweden. Many populations immigrating come from communities and countries where sexual and reproductive health rights (SRHR) are significantly less regulated than in Sweden and are already at risk for poorer health [1]. In addition, the “otherness” ascribed to migrant populations stereotype and stigmatize the people, ignoring that not everyone has an absence of gender rights. For example, an article on migrants in Sweden explores female genital mutilation and the unnecessary and repetitive questions asked to those of British-Somali heritage, illustrating the insensitivities and reinforced stereotypes about the Somali people [1]. Research shows that migrant youths visiting clinics may also perceive the treatment of lesser quality, more disrespect, and less parental support [2].

Overall, Sweden is the place to be for SRH, having an average rating of youth-friendliness of 4.8-4.9/5 [6]. Ranked 2nd in the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) Index with 3 SDG goals, including SDG 5 (Gender Equality), already accomplished, Sweden is the 21st-century leader that many countries, including the United States, should strive to become [7]. There are still issues that need to be improved, however, it’s clear that this country has always been on track to be one of the most transparent and gender-equal places, encouraging the continuation of SRH and SRH education for all ages going forward.


Download the accompanying infographic below or view it on our website here.

SRH Sweden Infographic
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[1] Amroussia, N., Holmström, C., & Ouis, P. (2022). Migrants in Swedish sexual and reproductive health and rights related policies: A critical discourse analysis. International Journal for Equity in Health, 21(1).

[2] Baroudi, M., Kalengayi, F. N., Goicolea, I., Jonzon, R., Sebastian, M. S., & Hurtig, A.-K. (2020). Access of migrant youths in Sweden to sexual and Reproductive Healthcare: A cross-sectional survey. International Journal of Health Policy and Management.

[4] National Geographic Kids. (n.d.). Sweden. National Geographic Kids.

[6] Waenerlund, A.-K., Sebastian, M. S., Hurtig, A.-K., Wiklund, M., Christianson, M., & Goicolea, I. (2020). Assessing the youth-friendliness of youth clinics in northern Sweden: A survey analyzing the perspective of the youth. BMC Health Services Research.

[7] United Nations. (n.d.). Sweden. Sustainable Development Report 2023.


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