The Swedish government threatened Nov. 25 to introduce quotas on the number of women represented on company boards of directors unless one-fourth of board members are women within two years.
Deputy Prime Minister Margareta Winberg said in an interview with the Swedish daily Svenska Dagbladet the measure was "a promise to all the angry women" and "a threat to those companies that don't like it."
"If companies do not reach 25 percent women by 2004, then we must introduce quotas," said Winberg, who is in charge of gender equality issues in Sweden's Social Democratic government.
She said she considered the goal "fully realistic."
In the past seven years, the number of women on Swedish boards has risen only marginally, from 5 percent to 6 percent, she said.
According to official Swedish statistics, 79 percent of women hold down jobs in Sweden, compared with 84 percent of men. Of working women, 67 percent work full-time while 33 percent work part-time.
Sweden leads the world when it comes to female representation in Parliament. In the country's last general election in September, 45 percent of seats went to women, while 10 of 22 Cabinet posts are currently held by women.