What about gender equality in the Nordic countries? How do couples balance work and family? In this blog entry, I will look at how couples are supported equally in that regard and whether it’s working. This is an area where the Nordic countries are at the forefront, while other areas, such as equal pay or equal power/influence wielded politically or economically, are still being dealt with and developed.
To be a parent means to work around the clock, unconditionally and steadfastly. It is a work of love without pay that requires energy and patience. For many people, it may interrupt a career, a dream, or a direction and your life may be on hold for a couple of decades or more. Often, the female part in a relationship will pause her life to be available to the children.
From the official Swedish website, www.sweden.se I picked out the following:
“In Sweden, a family policy that supports working parents with the same rights and obligations for both women and men makes it easier for parents to find a decent work–life balance. Child care is guaranteed to all parents and the aim is that nursery school and pre-school should be affordable for all. Fees are proportional to the parents’ income and the more children you have, the less you pay per child. For children between three and six, child care is even free for up to 15 hours per week. It was in the 1970s that public child care was reformed and expanded to facilitate for families with two working parents.
In 1974, Sweden was the first country in the world to replace gender-specific maternity leave with parental leave. The so-called parental insurance enabled couples to take six months’ off work per child, with each parent entitled to half of the days. However, a father could sign his days over to the mother – and as a result, two decades later, 90 percent of paternity leave in Sweden was being used by mothers only.
In 1995, the first pappamånad – ‘daddy month’ – was introduced, with 30 days of leave reserved for the father on a use-it-or-lose-it basis. If the father decided not to use that month off work, the couple would lose one month’s paid leave. In 2002, this was extended to two ‘daddy months’, or 60 days. By 2014, fathers were taking 25 percent of the total number of days available to the couple. As of 1 January 2016, there are three ‘daddy months’ with 90 days of paid leave reserved for fathers.”
A clever way to change the way we parent? A way to bring about more equality in the home, so both parents are able to pursue their careers while also taking care of their children? I think so. When a shift in perception is needed, policy is needed and this is a good example of that. By implementing such a policy boundaries are crossed and barriers are broken.
I recommend going to the website for more information on gender equality in Sweden.