Is Sweden the Best Place in the World to be a Woman?

Gender equality is a pressing issue all around the world.
Gender equality is a pressing issue all around the world. | © Michael Coghlan / Flickr

Stockholm Hub Writer

Scandinavian countries are known for being some of the best places in the world for women, and Sweden consistently ranks in some of the top spots. Known for its parental leave and overall gender equality, it appears that it would be up there – but is it really? Let’s find out!

Commitment towards equality

Sweden was ranked as the number one country in the world for its commitment towards lowering inequality back in 2017. In addition, The Economist previously reported that Sweden is the best country in the world for working women. Furthermore, Sweden has never placed further than 4th in relation to the Global Gender Gap since 2006.

What separates Sweden from other countries is the nation’s consistency when working towards equality. Since 2008, companies with more than 25 employees have company audits to see what the pay difference is between male and female employees. By doing so, if there is a large pay gap between men and women who work there, the company will be liable to pay certain fines.

Part of the reason why gender equality started becoming a priority for Sweden was because during the 1960’s individuals were taxed versus as a family unit, and it allowed women more additional rights and so they were able to build something for themselves. From this, the Labor Party added the first equal status policy to the working program in 1965.

Åsa Regnér, former Minister for Children and the Elderly and Minister for Gender Equality, is now the Deputy Executive Director of UN Women.

Career vs. family

If you follow Swedish news, it should come as no surprise that Sweden has some of the best maternal leaves in the world. Not only that, but families are rewarded for the male spouse to take leave from work as well. In Sweden, parents receive 480 days of parental leave, with 90 of those days specifically for fathers, and for the parents to use up until the child is eight years old. While on leave, parents still receive 80% of their salary, to allow them to financially afford to take the time off to raise their child.

By having a fantastic system for families, women are able to maintain their careers and their pay, without the fear of potentially losing their job when starting a family. In many other countries, women tend to be overlooked or don’t get paid as much due to already being mothers or being around the age that family planning becomes more prevalent. However, having a system like this, it allows women to not have to choose between their career and their family.

Work still needs to be done

Compared to the rest of the world, Sweden is a fantastic place for women, but there are still some issues that need to be addressed in the workplace. According to Business Insider Nordic, there are 14% more women that hold college degrees than men, yet they are paid, on average, 13% less than their male colleagues. Of all the managerial positions held in Sweden, only 39% of those positions are held by women and only 38% of board members are women. Although this number is low, it is still far better than the European average of 23%. Fortunately, Sweden does have a high percentage of Parliament members at 47%, but the nation has yet to elect its first female Prime Minister.

In many ways, Sweden is soaring over the competition when it comes to gender equality and opportunities. Many women here are involved in male-dominated industries and are still able to work while raising a family. Gender equality is a pressing issue, but thankfully Sweden is committed to closing the gender gap.

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