In celebration of International Women’s Day, it’s worth taking note of five major ways that Swedish policy and legislation support women in the workplace. It’s easy to lose sight of the fact that these benefits are unheard of in many other countries, where the struggle for equality and gender-balance faces far greater challenges.
Progress in Sweden was no accident. Decades of advocating on behalf of women’s rights lie behind the systems that are currently in place. Here are 5 key factors that have helped empower women in this country.
1. Individual taxation: All individuals are taxed as individuals. New arrivals in Sweden are often very surprised to learn that married people don’t file joint tax returns. They are also surprised to learn that the social security system is based on individual needs, not family needs or family incomes.
2. Company audits: Since the introduction of the Swedish Discrimination Act in 2008, larger Swedish companies must regularly survey the pay differences between men and women and take steps to close gaps or risk paying fines.
3. Parental leave: Another huge surprise for many internationals is that both parents are entitled to take “parental leave”, rather than just “maternity leave”. The Swedish parental leave system is the most generous in the world and most importantly, helps take the onus off mothers to assume full or larger responsibility for children. It also sets the stage for more equal sharing of responsibilities throughout childhood.
4. Heavily subsidised child care: Starting a family often signals the death of women’s careers in many other countries due to lack of legislative protection and/ or the cost of child care. The Swedish child care system is internationally renowned.
5. Paid leave for care of sick children: The fact that parents are entitled to take time off work to look after sick children also comes as an amazing surprise to many international parents who are new in Sweden.
These are just some of the reasons that Sweden regularly comes out on top in international surveys about best countries for women.
Don’t forget to leverage these benefits. They can often play an important role in influencing your candidate’s decision to take the plunge and move to Sweden. You may also be interested in our Intercultural Training which helps fast forward your recruits’ adaptation to Sweden by providing guidance on what to expect at Swedish workplaces.
Happy International Women’s day!
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