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Equality in the Workplace may mean letting men have it ALL.
05 July 2011
Though some women may lament having to balance work and family, many others wouldn’t have it any other way. Most of the working women I know would agree that having a career which is both fulfilling and financially empowering generally outweighs the sacrifices they are making on the life balance side of the equation.
But women don’t have to be the only ones to “have it all”. Sweden which boasts one of the world’s most generous paid parental leave schemes also has one of the highest rates of women in the workforce. In 2009, of Sweden’s 2.7 million women 76% were employed – as compared with 86% of Sweden’s 2.8 million men.
In Sweden’s case both working parents receive 16 months paid leave per child with ten paid days leave for dads when the baby is first born. The 16 months is shared between the two parents and those who decide to “stay at home” receive approximately 80% of their gross salary for the first 390 days.
But getting men to stay at home wasn’t easy. When the policy was first introduced in 1991, only 6% of Swedish men took advantage of it. In 1995 to boost participation rates the Government launched a campaign to encourage more men to participate in the program. This included one particularly macho image of a well known Swedish body builder with a baby perched on his biceps! Interesting…..
Today, some 85% of Swedish fathers participate in the scheme. In a NY Times report published in June of this year (“In Sweden, Men can have it all”), Birgitta Ohlsson, Sweden’s European affairs minister, was reported to have said: “Machos with dinosaur values don’t make the top-10 lists of attractive men in women’s magazines anymore. Now men can have it all — a successful career and being a responsible daddy,” she added. “It’s a new kind of manly. It’s more wholesome.”
One of the best quotes from the article however came from Sofia Karlsson, a police officer and the wife of Mikael Karlsson, who was reported to have said she found her husband most attractive “when he is in the forest with his rifle over his shoulder and the baby on his back.”