The following article is about Finland, but it also applies to Sweden. In fact – remembering my own days as a father of small children – the Swedish parental leave and childcare systems were the first things that struck me about the country when I began my association with it 25 years ago. I so envied present-day Swedish parents for the assistance the State affords them when their children are young; not only mothers, but also fathers, who are just as much ‘liberated’ by being able to share the early stages of parenthood equally with their partners. I would have loved being able to take a year ‘off’, fully paid, to look after mine; and then had excellent free pre-schools to send them to afterwards. (And it would probably have made me a better dad.)
From a broader, societal point of view there can be no doubt that the system also contributes more to gender equality than any other reform one could think of. Hence Finland’s present progressive and enlightened women-dominated government. Nervous British men need to be assured that women in power don’t need to be like Thatcher or May. They had to force their way up through a patriarchal system. That could explain their sharp edges. Instead, learn from the Nordics.