On the occasion of International Women’s day, we want to dig deeper into the Scandinavian view on gender equality in the Scandinavian countries.
In accordance with many international rankings and surveys, these nations are among the best places to be a woman and Sweden, Norway and Denmark are all at the top of many ranking lists when it comes to gender equality. The reasons behind this and what makes the Scandinavian countries stand out extra are what we are going to take a closer look at in this blog post.
Sweden, Norway, and Denmark together with Iceland and Finland were the first countries to develop the paid parental leave system by adding the so-called “mother and father quotas”. They were also among the first countries in the world to provide women with full voting rights and among the first ones to introduce legislation prohibiting dismissal from employment on the grounds of marriage or parenthood.
Employment and Income Equality
The Nordic countries have comparatively high rates of female participation in the labor force and proportion of parliamentary seats held by women. The number of women in the Nordic public sector has increased and today the prime ministers of both Norway and Denmark are women and so is also 47% of Sweden’s parliament.
Norway tops all other nations in terms of income equality. Gender gaps in labor participation and employment are among the smallest in the Nordic region compared to other OECD member countries.
The Nordic countries offer very comprehensive packages of family and gender equality policy and they encourage continuous full-time employment for all men and women, including single parents. Geared towards facilitating employment, with the state expected to provide adults with the necessary services and support to do so. The support includes family support like childcare and paid leave to both men and women to help them find and stay in paid work, even after becoming parents.
Regarding parental leave, In Sweden, each parent is entitled to 240 of the 480 days of the period and each parent has 90 days reserved exclusively for him or her.
Thanks to the Scandinavian countries’ progressive childcare and parental leave policies, women are allowed to grow within their careers without taking a high risk of being penalized for being a mother and having a child.
Comparison of Scandinavia With Other Countries
For other countries in the Western world, it can be hard to replicate the success of the Nordic nations on the equality front as they do not have the same conditions to work from. According to Geoff Hodgson, a professor in management at Loughborough University’s London campus, the demographic and governmental structures in the Nordic countries are relatively unique and can not be seen everywhere in the world. These nations are relatively small and ethnically relatively homogeneous, have high levels of taxations and welfare provisions available. Hodgson says that these mentioned attributes are not shared by other countries.
Anneli Häyrén, a researcher at the Centre for Gender Research at Sweden’s Uppsala University says that there are statistics that suggest we have not reached the goal yet regarding gender equality. Häyrén adds that we are even far away from where we want to be, in some aspects. Together with other experts, Anneli Häyrén believes that the Nordic countries still have ways to go, to reach the goal. This means that these nations will not stop working on decreasing the gender equality gap. They have come far, but yet they are far away from done.
To summarize, the Scandinavian view on gender equality is among the best in the world, and Sweden, Norway, and Denmark are according to international ranking lists among the best places to be a woman, thanks to many different aspects. Aspects like the huge support from the government as well as progressive childcare and parental leave, for example.