This is a list of 10 times when Sweden was first in the world. You can continue to read the blog post or watch the video.
On July 1st, 1979, Sweden became the first country to ban corporal punishment, meaning to smack your children. This law was very controversial both within and outside of the country as some claimed that laws should not affect the family sphere and how parents decide to raise (and discipline) their children. However, several countries have since followed and introduced similar bans.
Sweden was the first country with its own number. Yes, in 2016, Sweden got its very own phone number, making it possible for people based outside of Sweden to call the number and get transferred to a random Swede who had signed up through an app set up by the Swedish Tourist Association. The idea was for people abroad to be able to have their questions about Sweden answered, and thereby promoting the country.
On December 2nd, 1766, Sweden was the first country to have freedom of the press written into its constitution. The Swedish Freedom of the Press Act also established the principle of providing public access to information, which made it legal to publish and read public documents.
Sweden was the first country in the world to introduce women’s votings rights in 1718. However, in 1778 it was abolished not to be re-introduced as a policy until over a hundred years later. The actual decision was taken in 1919 and the first election where women could vote was in 1921.
Sweden was the first country to implement a feminist foreign policy, starting in 2014. Foreign minister Margot Wallström announced the policy based on the three R’s, meaning they focus on Rights, Representation, and Resources aiming at changing structures and enhancing the visibility of women and girls from a passive audience to actors in foreign affairs.
In 1974, Sweden became the first country to replace maternity leave with parental leave. The parental insurance replaced the maternity insurance to give men the right to paid leave so that they could take care of the small children on the same terms as women. It is nowadays frowned upon for fathers not to take their share of leave. Parents of both sexes are entitled to 480 days paid parental leave at about 80% of their salary with some days that can be transferred to the other parent. Fathers are also entitled to 10 days of paid leave in connection to the birth of the child.
In 1972 Sweden became the first country to legally allow gender change and provide free hormone therapy. Seven years later Sweden joined a few other countries in the world to declassify homosexuality as an illness. Transgenderism, however, was not declassed as an illness until 2017.
Sweden was the first country to criminalize buying sexual services, but not selling, on January 1st, 1999. The idea was that organized prostitution and trafficking serve as financing for other criminal activities, and if you target the demand for sexual favors, then there will be no need for a supply, and it therefore also helps to defund other criminal activities like smuggling drugs and illegal firearms.
Sweden was the first country to achieve the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS. The 2014 UNAIDS/WHO 90-90-90 goals for HIV care had the proposed goals that 90% of all people living with HIV should know their HIV status, 90% of those diagnosed should receive antiretroviral therapy and 90% of those should have durable viral suppression. In the end, 73% of all patients living with HIV should be virologically suppressed by 2020. Sweden achieved this already in 2017 with 78% suppression.
The world’s first ATM with the ability to check account status before the withdrawal was in Malmö, the third biggest city in Sweden. The bank was Oxie Härads Sparkbank. And Oxie is also the community outside of Malmö where I grew up. The machine was introduced on May 6, 1968, and was hooked up to an IBM 360 computer through a data link.
Sweden might be the first country to switch from banknotes and coins to a cashless economy. Only 3% of all transactions today are made using cash.