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ccording to the Global Gender Gap Report 2020 projections, Western Europe will be the first region in the world to close its gender gap—in 54.4 years—with Nordic countries leading them for the past 11 years. This compares to the global average of 107 countries included in the report, which “…will take nearly a century to achieve parity.”

While every country has different strengths and weaknesses, which usually correlate to cultural and social norms, political and economic participation are the two largest gender disparities worldwide. Implementing paid paternal leave programs—with mandatory paternity leave—is one way countries can increase women’s economic participation; thus, achieving full gender parity sooner.

The Economic Participation and Opportunity sub index shows that inequality in wages and the labor market remains imbalanced with a downward trend. Currently, around 55% of adult women are in the labor market compared to 78% of men worldwide. Domestic gender roles play a large part in creating this state of unequal economic participation. When household and childcare duties are not shared between parents, only one parent can focus on their career and achieve economic growth.

Take the example of the world’s four most gender-equal countries—Iceland, Norway, Finland, and Sweden—which all have paid paternal leave policies. In fact, both Iceland and Finland just extended their paternity leave within the last three months. Collectively, the four countries have parental leaves ranging from approximately 12-16 months long. Perhaps these programs are one reason why the most equal of the countries, Iceland, has an average of 86% of adult women and 91% of adult men participating in the labor force. It is apparent that Nordic countries value gender equality, and their governments are always looking at new policies that will alleviate the gender gap.

In a report commissioned by the European Union, Ari Klængur Jónsson argues that “one of the most important social policies the government has in order to promote and/or reinforce gender equality in the home is parental leave, alongside accessible and subsidized public childcare”. When parents share household chores and childcare, it allows them to have a work-family balance.

However, there’s no point in implementing paternity leave if the fathers aren’t taking it. Due to the competitive nature of men and the intrinsic work expectations, studies have found that oftentimes fathers don’t take paternity leave when it’s merely an option—especially if it’s unpaid. Even with paid paternity leave, it is common for fathers to face social discrimination when spending a significant amount of time off work to be with their newborn baby.

Bias, lack of or reduced income, not getting that promotion, dirty diapers. Should men be jealous of Sweden’s progressive policy?

Bias, lack of or reduced income, not getting that promotion, dirty diapers. Should men be jealous of Sweden’s progressive policy?

Sweden recognized this back in 1995 when it introduced one month of mandatory paid paternity leave, and has seen a steady increase in fathers sharing parental leave ever since. Now, Sweden requires fathers to take at least three months paid paternity leave out of the 16 months available to both parents. In Sweden, it’s normal to see a group of dads with strollers taking their kids to day care. “Latte Dads” are the Swedish equivalent of American “Soccer Moms”.

Bias, lack of or reduced income, not getting that promotion, dirty diapers. Should men be jealous of Sweden’s progressive policy? Evidence suggests a positive correlation between family leave and maternal and infant health as well as positive economic outcomes. Furthermore, a study by the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) found that almost seven out of ten fathers missed key milestones in their child’s life, like their first words or steps, when they didn’t take paternity leave. Anyone who has studied psychology understands how crucial the first few years of a child’s life is. It’s unfortunate that the current climate surrounding parental leave forces fathers to decide between creating a bond with their child or supporting their child financially.

When maternity and paternity leave are equal in time and payment, it not only changes the attitude in the workplace but habits in the home. The first step toward improving women’s economic participation and eliminating gender norms is for more individual companies to implement their own paid paternity leave policies. The ideal policy would ensure that parents’ jobs are protected and their opportunities for growth are not influenced by their leave. Eventually, the goal would be for federally regulated paid paternal leave in every country—with a few months strictly dedicated to the father. However, it remains unrealistic to think countries like the U.S. will be rife with Latte Dads in the next 30 years.

Western Europe, particularly Nordic countries, is paving the way for others by illustrating how promoting gender equality can improve the long term social and economic well-being of a country. Perhaps because of the primarily socialist nature of the countries in Western Europe, they will remain at the forefront on this issue. Statistically, these countries are going to be the first to achieve gender parity. Socially, they are pioneers for breaking gender roles and creating new norms for the future of their, very healthy, children.

About
Melissa Metos
:
Melissa is a DC Correspondent and a senior at the University of Utah pursuing her BA in Sociology with a minor in Writing and Rhetoric.
The views presented in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily represent the views of any other organization.

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Will Gender Gaps Close in Your Generation?

March 28, 2020

A

ccording to the Global Gender Gap Report 2020 projections, Western Europe will be the first region in the world to close its gender gap—in 54.4 years—with Nordic countries leading them for the past 11 years. This compares to the global average of 107 countries included in the report, which “…will take nearly a century to achieve parity.”

While every country has different strengths and weaknesses, which usually correlate to cultural and social norms, political and economic participation are the two largest gender disparities worldwide. Implementing paid paternal leave programs—with mandatory paternity leave—is one way countries can increase women’s economic participation; thus, achieving full gender parity sooner.

The Economic Participation and Opportunity sub index shows that inequality in wages and the labor market remains imbalanced with a downward trend. Currently, around 55% of adult women are in the labor market compared to 78% of men worldwide. Domestic gender roles play a large part in creating this state of unequal economic participation. When household and childcare duties are not shared between parents, only one parent can focus on their career and achieve economic growth.

Take the example of the world’s four most gender-equal countries—Iceland, Norway, Finland, and Sweden—which all have paid paternal leave policies. In fact, both Iceland and Finland just extended their paternity leave within the last three months. Collectively, the four countries have parental leaves ranging from approximately 12-16 months long. Perhaps these programs are one reason why the most equal of the countries, Iceland, has an average of 86% of adult women and 91% of adult men participating in the labor force. It is apparent that Nordic countries value gender equality, and their governments are always looking at new policies that will alleviate the gender gap.

In a report commissioned by the European Union, Ari Klængur Jónsson argues that “one of the most important social policies the government has in order to promote and/or reinforce gender equality in the home is parental leave, alongside accessible and subsidized public childcare”. When parents share household chores and childcare, it allows them to have a work-family balance.

However, there’s no point in implementing paternity leave if the fathers aren’t taking it. Due to the competitive nature of men and the intrinsic work expectations, studies have found that oftentimes fathers don’t take paternity leave when it’s merely an option—especially if it’s unpaid. Even with paid paternity leave, it is common for fathers to face social discrimination when spending a significant amount of time off work to be with their newborn baby.

Bias, lack of or reduced income, not getting that promotion, dirty diapers. Should men be jealous of Sweden’s progressive policy?

Bias, lack of or reduced income, not getting that promotion, dirty diapers. Should men be jealous of Sweden’s progressive policy?

Sweden recognized this back in 1995 when it introduced one month of mandatory paid paternity leave, and has seen a steady increase in fathers sharing parental leave ever since. Now, Sweden requires fathers to take at least three months paid paternity leave out of the 16 months available to both parents. In Sweden, it’s normal to see a group of dads with strollers taking their kids to day care. “Latte Dads” are the Swedish equivalent of American “Soccer Moms”.

Bias, lack of or reduced income, not getting that promotion, dirty diapers. Should men be jealous of Sweden’s progressive policy? Evidence suggests a positive correlation between family leave and maternal and infant health as well as positive economic outcomes. Furthermore, a study by the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) found that almost seven out of ten fathers missed key milestones in their child’s life, like their first words or steps, when they didn’t take paternity leave. Anyone who has studied psychology understands how crucial the first few years of a child’s life is. It’s unfortunate that the current climate surrounding parental leave forces fathers to decide between creating a bond with their child or supporting their child financially.

When maternity and paternity leave are equal in time and payment, it not only changes the attitude in the workplace but habits in the home. The first step toward improving women’s economic participation and eliminating gender norms is for more individual companies to implement their own paid paternity leave policies. The ideal policy would ensure that parents’ jobs are protected and their opportunities for growth are not influenced by their leave. Eventually, the goal would be for federally regulated paid paternal leave in every country—with a few months strictly dedicated to the father. However, it remains unrealistic to think countries like the U.S. will be rife with Latte Dads in the next 30 years.

Western Europe, particularly Nordic countries, is paving the way for others by illustrating how promoting gender equality can improve the long term social and economic well-being of a country. Perhaps because of the primarily socialist nature of the countries in Western Europe, they will remain at the forefront on this issue. Statistically, these countries are going to be the first to achieve gender parity. Socially, they are pioneers for breaking gender roles and creating new norms for the future of their, very healthy, children.

About
Melissa Metos
:
Melissa is a DC Correspondent and a senior at the University of Utah pursuing her BA in Sociology with a minor in Writing and Rhetoric.
The views presented in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily represent the views of any other organization.