Why amazing parental leave won't set women free

Oct 28, 2021

There’s a story of an American tourist visiting Stockholm. After an afternoon walking around the Swedish capital she turns to her Swedish host and asks:

- Hey, what’s up with all the gay nannies!

NO, this story is probably not true.

But YES  the sight of a lot of DADS pushing buggies in broad daylight in Scandinavia can seem exotic to foreigners.

I am bringing this up because it seems like The United States is at risk of remaining one of the only countries on the planet that does not offer paid leave to people who have just had babies. If so, mothers recovering from childbirth (personally I lost half the blood in my body the first time I had a biological child) will have to keep choosing between quitting their jobs or going back to work leaving their infant at home.

This doesn’t exactly sound like “family values” to me, but hey I’m European!

Sweden, where I’m from, gives new parents 240 days off work between them and at least 90 of these days need to be used by the father. It’s all very civilised and the system pays for itself because when you offer women the opportunity to combine work and family you’ll also get higher female employment levels, which leads to increased tax revenues.

BUT there’s another lesson from Scandinavia that I think the world needs to hear. When it comes to everything else, having amazing parental leave and affordable childcare in place DOES NOT TRANSLATE INTO GENDER EQUALITY.

So yes, getting men to push buggies in broad daylight is great.

But it doesn’t solve everything else.

The lower status of women in society goes a lot deeper than the very real (economic) problem of who should look after the children.

Happy Friday!

Katrine

Ps. I have some fun news from Canada. My book Mother of Invention has been chosen by Indigo (the biggest book retailer in Canada) as one of their top 10 business books of 2021!

Pps. Among other things this means that if you are in Canada you can get the book for 25% less next week. Please do!

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