Finland is the only developed country in the world where fathers spend with their children than mothers, according to a new study.
The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) says that fathers in Finland spend more time with school-aged children than mothers. On average, eight minutes more.
It’s a finding that bucks the usual image of mothers being the one that rear the children while fathers are away working. In addition to this study, the Global Gender Gap report rated Finland the second most equal country in the world in 2016 (after Iceland).
Gender equality in Finland
Annika Saarikko, Finland’s minister of family affairs and social services, says, “This is a question of gender equality, but it’s more a question of the rights of the child. This is not about the mother’s right or the father’s right. But the child’s right to spend time with both parents.”
The Finnish government offers fathers nine weeks of paternity leave, during which they are paid 70% of their salary. And to encourage fathers to take advantage of the benefit, it recently launched a new campaign called “It’s Daddy Time!”
“We want fathers to take more of the shared parental leave available,” says Saarikko. “We are quite sure if we look at the research that the connection between the baby and the father is really important. The early years are vital and we believe in investing in that.”
Mothers in Finland have about four months of paid maternity leave. While fathers have just over two months of paid leave. Couples can also share an additional five-plus months of paid parental leave between them. Most dads take the first three weeks of leave offered to them, but around half take the full two months. The Daddy Time campaign is hoping to increase those figures.
Even after the parental leave period ends, one parent has the right to stay home and receive €450 a month. Then return to the same job when the child is three years old. However, some argue this money encourages women to stay away from the workplace for too long. This, they think, harms their job prospects when they return to work.