Another lesson from Sweden

In these post I will sum what an article of the newspaper “ The Guardian” reported the past 28th of May ( “ Swedish fathers to get third month of paid paternity leave”).Once again, a Scandinavian country- Sweden- shows to be the precursor among other states in terms of equality of gender. More precisely, the issue is about paternity leave, a topic which still needs to be taken in consideration in many European states.

“ Force men to take paternity leave. It will make the world a better place”. These were the words said by Gabrielle Jackson- deputy comment editor for Guardian Australia. And this is exactly what Sweden is trying to do, offering 16-month parental leave that can be taken by either mothers and fathers. Among these, two months are set aside for dads. In doing so, the government plans to increase gender equality by the end of 2016.

Already in 1995, the country introduced a first month reserved specifically for fathers under a “use it or lose it” system, and a second month in 2002. These reserved months are known as “daddy months” and they should encourage fathers to share more of the parental leave.

Now, what changes is that with this proposal, mothers and fathers would each be required to take three months’ leave, or lose them. At a some extent, the government is trying to force them to use these months. The remaining 10 months would be divided however the parents wished. Mothers, however, cannot ask for the months reserved for fathers.

The article, then highlightes also the still existing salary discrepancies between men and women- though extremely lower than other states. In fact, men earn more money than women. This is surprising, since Sweden has always been the theatre for the greatest strides in gender equality.

However, parents receive 80% of their salary while on leave, capped at a salary ceiling of around €4,000 (£2,900) per month. Furthermore, women currently claim about 75% of parental leave, compared with 99.5% when it was introduced in 1974. Parental leave can be used at any time before the child’s eighth birthday.

In Sweden, about 80% of children have two working parents, but, according to 2013 statistics, only 40% of women work full-time compared with 75% of men,.

Women can return to work, since children are guaranteed a place in childcare from the age of 12 months for a very modest sum. Official figures from Eurostat show that 77% of women in Sweden had a job in 2014 – the highest level in the European Union.

In the autumn, the minority Social Democratic government will presents its bill to parliament and it is expected to pass with the support of the Left and Liberal parties.

 In case this proposal will win, Sweden will be again one step forward toward the achievement of an effective equality of gender.

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