Equality in Sweden
In Sweden it’s not unusual to see men pushing prams and women debating in parliament. Equality starts at school, where boys and girls are given the same opportunities. Girls actually outperform boys in education, and almost half the PhDs awarded today go to women.
One important factor in Swedish equality is parental leave. New dads get ten days off work when their child is born, and then share with their partner a further 480 days of paid parental leave. This allows women to continue to pursue their careers, while allowing men to play a larger role in their children’s formative years.
Equality is supported by laws and enforced by a discrimination ombudsman. Besides gender discrimination, the ombudsman also ensures compliance with laws against discrimination on the grounds of ethnicity, disability or sexual orientation.
Several other laws in Sweden protect women’s rights. Women have the right to an abortion, and there is a specific law to protect women against violence by people close to them. Sweden was the first country to make rape of a woman by her husband illegal.
In the workplace, employers are bound by law to promote equality among their employees and to act in cases of harassment. More than a quarter of registered companies are run by women, and this figure is increasing. About a fifth of the directors on the boards of listed companies are women, and this is also rising. Women are even better represented in the public sector, from local to national level. Nearly half of all members of parliament, and ministers, are women.
Sweden ranks as one of the world’s most gender-egalitarian countries, based on a firm belief that men and women should share power and influence equally. An extensive welfare system makes it easier for both sexes to balance work and family life. However, the Government recognises that there is still room for improvement in many areas.
Stockholm Pride can be a flamboyant showcase of sexuality and an adult arena for debate and discussion. Now a new project ensures there’s something for the family too, promoting the event as a playground for gay parents and their kids.
A blue cup for her and a pink cup for him — does that sound weird? Not for Swedish children. Gender pedagogy at pre-school level puts everyone on an equal footing.