The question that needs to be asked is, is welfare and equality synonymous with each other? Recently, Sweden was ranked the best country in the world if you want to become a parent, thanks to its great policies for parents and young children. However, the norm of the supportive housewife still continues to remain the ideal and this also means that after equal parental leave, fewer women are returning to work.
"The Glorified Swedish Model" also has its flaws like any system
Why is it that in spite of all the provisions made for women, like maternity and leave and childcare, do women chose to limit their careers? Are conservative social rules still reigning supreme despite good policies? The truth is that "The Glorified Swedish Model" also has its own flaws like any system and some of the reasons behind could be due to Swedish culture. Known for its safety and stability, Sweden also reveres the word "lagom" which means that one should neither have too much or too little of anything; things fall into place if you follow this adage. While the government's parental leave policy gives an equal leave of 240 days, each parent can avail a minimum of 90 days and then can transfer the remaining 150 to their partner and here's where traditional gender roles come into play. The Nordic Labour Journal revealed, that most mothers take the extra days and corporates also expected men to take the minimum amount of leave days.
The traditional view of women is still lurking around
Anne Lise Ellingsæter, author and professor of sociology and social geography at the University of Oslo, said, "Paternal leave extremely important to reach gender equality. The paternal quota has been extremely important, symbolically, in order to change the way we think about the relationship between fathers and children. There is potential here to take this one step further by giving fathers a more equal distribution of parental leave." Today, while Sweden is famous for its family policies, the traditional view of women is still lurking around and therefore, there also needs to exist gender education to ensure that parents know that they now can choose a career too, despite having children, particularly mothers. There's a sort of mindset than things are great the way they are, so it must remain the same; like all things in life, everything can be bettered and so can gender issues and traditional gender roles, even in a socially-progressive country.
Image credit: The Local Sweden