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Gender equality and Nordic Family Policy

Chapter in book
Authors Ulla Björnberg
Published in Challenges for future family policy in the Nordic countries
Pages 207-225
ISBN 978-87-7119-212-4
Publisher The Danish National Centre for Social Research
Place of publication Köpenhamn
Publication year 2013
Published at Department of Sociology and Work Science
Pages 207-225
Language en
Keywords Gender equality, family policy, violence
Subject categories Sociology


Family policies have been regarded as the main vehicle for attaining gender equality. The future prospects of the “Nordic model” of gender equality more broadly also remain uncertain in the current political climate. The analysis of current trends in the region yields a mixed picture of backlash and progression that complicates the question of gender equality in both families and the labour market. Regarding family policy in a narrow sense, fatherhood and the caring role of fathers has been the object of policies regarding parental leave in the Nordic countries, with the exception of Denmark. Much attention has been devoted to biological fatherhood, whereas social fatherhood has been less problematised in terms of rights and obligations to the children in reconstituted families. Iceland is however an exception, since step-parents take on parental obligations no matter whether the biological parent is alive and actively involved or not. The biological parent is also obliged to pay maintenance. Single mothers in the Nordic countries enjoy a better situation than their counterparts in other European countries, but many lone mothers are still carrying a heavy burden when trying to cope with reconciling work and family, especially financially and in some cases regarding the management of joint legal and practical custody. On the basis of the developments described in the chapters, it might be relevant to discuss more specific measures directed at single mothers and mothers in specific life circumstances. We have highlighted the situation of mothers and children in the process of divorce and separation and of women and children exposed of violent acts by partners or ex-partners.

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