Swedish GUE MEP Mikael Gustafsson became the first man to chair Parliament's Women's Rights Committee 3 October, a clear signal that championing gender equality is not the sole responsibility of women. Mr Gustafsson is a strong believer in equality between men and women, and "practices what he preaches," according to colleagues.
"I feel overwhelmed and honoured," said, Gustafsson, a newcomer to Parliament, after being elected chairman."The committee has put their trust in me, and I will do my utmost to live up to that trust."
"Among the challenges ahead are EU legislation on violence against women and to increase women's economic independence and their influence in politics," he said.
A man leading a gender equality committee will probably raise a few eyebrows, so we spoke to some of his friends and colleagues to learn more about the new chairman.
Open-minded and knowledgeable
"Mikael is a warm, open, very knowledgeable and a curious politician, having an honest and sincere commitment to people," says Miriam Malm, a colleague from the Swedish Left Party. "He is also diplomatic, humble and a trusted friend and colleague."
So what topics are closest to Mr Gustafsson's heart?
"I believe feminism, environmental issues and an ecologically sustainable society," says Malm. "And he practices what he preaches."
Swedish MP Ulla Andersson calls him an "eco-feminist who has a great knowledge of economic policy and infrastructure management…He also likes techno and maps," she revealed. "You have a full-blooded feminist; he will prove it again and again. He knows the questions, he sees them and he can contribute to a change."
Good listener and negotiator
The EP will be a fertile ground for Gusatafsson to flex his diplomatic skills, according to Jenny Fors, who worked with Gustafsson in the Swedish parliament. "He is a very good listener, which today is a rare gift, and is also a good leader."
"I can tell you that his political opponents think, with a twinkle in their eyes, that it's nice he became an MEP. He is in fact good at giving his opponents a tough time," said Malm.
Born 1966, married, 2 children
Held political posts including advisor for the Left Party in the Swedish parliament
26 Sept, became new MEP for the Left Party
Replaces Eva-Britt Svensson, who left EP for health reasons
3 Oct 1st man to be elected chair of Women's Rights Committee since its initiation in 1984