On Friday, Sweden's deputy prime minister and climate minister, Isabella Lovin, shared a photograph on Twitter and Facebook that showed her signing a new climate law.
A closer look at the photograph reveals a deeper message. In the picture, Lovin is sat at the left of the frame while she signs the law. Behind her are seven female colleagues, including one who is in the late stages of a pregnancy.
As Swedish tabloid Expressen put it, the photograph appeared to be a “cheeky nod” to a recent image of President Trump. In particular, Lovin's image may be a reference to a number of widely-shared photographs from last week that showed Trump signing a controversial executive order that blocked U.S. foreign aid to organizations that discuss abortion services.
In these photos, Trump is completely surrounded by men — a detail lost on few observers.
On social media, Swedes praised Lovin for her message. “Wonderful Picture! Hope you sent it to the man on the other side of the ocean,” wrote one Facebook user.
The Swedish Embassy in Washington did not immediately return a request for comment. However, Lovin herself hinted the photograph had a clear message in a statement to the Local. “We are a feminist government, which shows in this photo. Ultimately it is up to the observer to interpret the photo,” Lovin said.
Since Prime Minister Stefan Lofven formed a coalition government between his own Social Democrat party and Lovin's Green Party in 2014, Sweden has claimed to be the world's first “feminist government.” A statement on the government's website explains that this means “gender equality is central to the Government’s priorities — in decision-making and resource allocation.”
Sweden's new climate law sets long-term goals for greenhouse gas reductions in the country. Notably, it will be legally binding for future governments as well.
The Swedish position may be at odds with the new U.S. administration. President Trump has repeatedly expressed skepticism in climate change science, even going as far as to label it a hoax perpetrated by China. There is widespread speculation he may try to pull the United States out of the Paris Agreement or simply fail to participate in the key climate deal.
After signing the deal on Thursday, Lofven told reporters that the position from Trump was “worrying.” Lovin said it was time for European nations to take the lead on climate policy, as “the U.S. is not there anymore to lead.”
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