The center-left-led government of Finland plans to give paid parental leave to new dads as new mom’s almost double the paternity leave, it announced on Wednesday.
It will extend the paid paternity leave for almost seven months, in line with maternity leave. About half of it can be offered to the other parent.
Pregnant women are also entitled to one month’s maternity leave before their planned birth date.
Health and Social Affairs Minister Aino-Kaisa Pekonen said the goal of the “radical reform” was both to improve gender equality and to boost a falling birth rate.
“It allows for better parental equity, and social diversity,” she said. She noticed that other countries like Sweden and Iceland had seen their birth rates rise since providing more fathers leave.
Between 2010 and 2018, the number of newborns in Finland fell by about a fifth to just 47,577 in a country of about 5.5 million people. Pekonen said other countries such as Sweden and Iceland had seen their birth rates rise after giving fathers more leave.
In December, Finland’s five-party coalition, all led by women, four of whom are under 35, took office and made gender equality a priority.
Speaking at last month’s 50th annual World Economic Forum in Davos, Prime Minister Sanna Marin called on states and businesses to do more to ensure women are treated fairly, saying that gender equality “doesn’t happen on its own.”
In 2018 a previous center-right Finland government tried to reform, paid parental leave, but eventually rejected the idea as too expensive.
Pekonen said it has been proven that a more equal distribution of the domestic workload between parents decreases the risk of divorce.
“It also improves work-life and wages equality over the long term by directing fathers to use a larger proportion of parental leaves than before,” she said.
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