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Photos of the Day: Swedish dads on parental leave with their kids

Samad Kohigoltapeh, 32, construction engineer, with his twins.

Samad Kohigoltapeh, 32, construction engineer, with his twins. (Photo credit: Johan Bavman / Moment / INSTITUTE)

There is a mythical place where new parents get 480 days of paid leave for every child they have. And though it might feel like it to those of us here in the US, counting ourselves lucky if we get a single paid day off at all, this place is not, in fact, a fantastical utopia in a parallel universe. It is simply a country called Sweden that decided to enact a policy to make it so.

Under Sweden’s policy, 60 of these 480 days must be used by dads (in straight couples) or else they’re lost, and some lawmakers are pushing to make the split even more equal. Perhaps even more than the generous maternity leave, this incentive for dads to take time with their kids seems to be a boon to women and the goal of gender equality (and to the economy too.) Women’s incomes and levels of self-reported happiness have increased, divorce rates are down, and, as the New York Times reported a few years ago, “a new definition of masculinity is emerging.”

Still, though most Swedish fathers take some of their leave, a minority use all their 60 days, and only 12 percent share the total leave time 50-50 with their partner. While home with his own son, Swedish photographer Johan Bävman was surprised to realize that “we are actually not so equal as we think we are in Sweden, despite how Swedes often pat themselves on the shoulder and are so proud of their gender equal system and so on.” He created the photo series Swedish Dads to highlight men who decided to stay home longer than the average, “to hear why they wanted to be home with their children and what they hoped to learn from it.”

Check it out — if you can deal with the envy better than I can.

(h/t Buzzfeed)

Header image: Jonas Feldt, 31, job centre administrator, with his kids (Johan Bavman / Moment / INSTITUTE)

St. Paul, MN

Maya Dusenbery is an Executive Director in charge of Editorial at Feministing. She is the author of the forthcoming book Doing Harm: The Truth About How Bad Medicine and Lazy Science Leave Women Dismissed, Misdiagnosed, and Sick (HarperOne, March 2018). She has been a fellow at Mother Jones magazine and a columnist at Pacific Standard. Before become a full-time writer, she worked at the National Institute for Reproductive Health. A Minnesota native, she received her B.A. from Carleton College in 2008.

Maya Dusenbery is an Executive Director of Feministing in charge of Editorial.

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