“Fourteen major retailers have made changes since we started our campaign almost two years ago,” member of the Let Toys Be Toys initiative Tricia Lowther said. The initiative’s objective is to make children feel free to play with any toy of their choosing, not to limit their imagination by telling them which toys are for girls and which are for boys. “They’ve taken down boys’ and girls’ signs. The blue and pink aisles remain, but things are happening.”
According to Lann Hornscheidt, professor of gender studies and linguistics at the Humboldt University Center for Transdisciplinary Gender Studies, Sweden is the pioneer in this movement.
“No other country has made such an effort to break down gender barriers among children,” Lann said.
Some nurseries have started using “hen,” even when it’s not the nursery’s policy.
“They’re putting a lot of effort into avoiding words like boys and girls, instead just saying ‘children,’” Maria Hulth of a gender equality consulting firm said. “And norm critique is growing extremely fast,” adding that both of her children use hen with each other.
Not all agree with the movement.
“Whatever you choose to call people, the biological differences between men and women remain,” Dr. David Eberhard, a leading Swedish psychiatrist said. “We should treat each other with respect, but ignoring biological gender differences is crazy. Making us identical won’t create more equality.”
Sweden is currently the fourth most gender-equal country, following Iceland, Finland and Denmark.