It is summertime again and for me it’s time to continue exploring feminism in a new corner of the world. And my second stop is – Scandinavia!
Starting from next week, I will go on a road trip through Denmark, Sweden and Norway. This means a lot of travelling but also new posts, this time about women in Scandinavia. I expect this to be veery different than what we saw in Morocco, not to say the opposite: while Morocco for a large part is trying to fix more basic problems in the gender gap like autonomous choice of partner and the right to pursue a certain job, Scandinavia has worked itself through most layers of the gender gap and is now busy with the top layers like equal respresentation of men and women in top position jobs. But let’s have a look at what exactly makes Scandinavia so interesting.
In many respects, the Scandinavian countries have made it to the top of the list. High living standards, good infrastructure, and a global leader in terms of green energy and innovation are only some of the positive aspects Scandinavia is famous for. One aspect that is of particular interest to me, is the quite low gender gap compared to the rest of the world. Many issues of gender inequality are already ‘solved’ in Scandinavia: gender equality in the public sector is as high as almost nowhere else in the world, there are genereous maternity leaves, and men and women are almost equally represented in parliament, just to name a few things. Sweden even calls itself the ‘first feminist government’ in the world – a quite bold statement. When taking a closer look at Sweden’s political parties, this doesn’t even seem so far-fetched anymore. Many Swedish parties have feminism included in their programme, and several political parties are led by women.
However, issues of gender inequality remain. In the private sector for example, men are greatly overrepresented in management positions. And also Scandinavian people experience daily sexism, but it is definitely a completely different league than most other countries.
After having been to Morocco, I am looking forward to getting to know life as a woman in the area that calls itself the ‘most feminist part of the world’. Is it really that amazing to be a woman here? And what struggles do women experience on a daily? What is there to improve?
But let’s first dive into what and where Scandinavia is. Most commonly, the term Scandinavia includes the countries Denmark, Norway and Sweden. It’s still debated whether Finland and Iceland should be counted in as well but for convenience, we will count only Denmark, Norway and Sweden. One of the major reasons that the majority of people think of this specific array of countries as one group is the fact that the three countries all speak languages that stem from Germanistic languages. Also nice to know: Scandinavia is the birthplace of the Vikings!
Being the southernmost country of Scandinavia, Denmark lies above Germany at the North Sea and the Baltic Sea and has more than 400 islands. Don’t get fooled by its relatively small size – Denmark is repeatedly reported to be the happiest country in the world! Also, the Danish landsize is actually not even that small: the giant country of Greenland belongs to the Kingdom of Denmark as well. It is seen as one of the most liberal and open-thinking places in the world, also regarding women’s rights. The capital of Denmark is Copenhagen.
Apart from free-roaming Moose (which I would honestly loove to see), Sweden is a pretty amazing country as well. To the sides it lays imbedded between Finland and Norway and touches the Baltic Sea. In many ways, Sweden paves the way: for example in recycling. Sweden is so good at recycling that nowadays it even imports the waste of other countries like Norway. That’s the way to go! Also, Sweden has lifted the legal ban from gay relationships since 1944 (!) and has one of the smallest gender gaps in the world (more info about this in my post about Sweden!). Another nice fact for especially travellers: Sweden is one of the few countries in the world where it is allowed to camp anywhere in the nature you want. Considering the amazingly beautiful landscapes in Sweden – thumbs up!
Last but not least, Norway is the biggest and northernmost Scandinavian country. The northernmost point of Norway is infact so much up north, that you might think yourself to be at the North Pole – lots of ice and twice as many polarbears as humans inhabit this area.
This doesn’t make Norway a sad or depressed country, since it ranks quite high on the global happiness scale. Apart from Honningsvag, more interesting things can be found in the north of the country: during summer you get to experience the sun that never goes down (the midnight sun) and during winter the amazing polar lights can be viewed here for several weeks. Also, Norway is home to more than 1,000 Fjords which is the highest concentration of Fjords in the world and attracts many tourists to the country every year.
Like its sister countries, Norway can showcase one of the highest living standards of the world along with a comprehensive social welfare system. The capital of Norway is Oslo.
As you can see, the Scandinavian countries seem to be quite comparable in terms of quality of life and happiness index. Earlier we saw that also in terms of gender equality, all three countries seem to have reached a high level. But are the countries really that comparable? Or are the differences within Scandinavia bigger than one would expect? And how is life as a woman in each of these countries?
These and more questions I aim to answer in the next three weeks. I hope you enjoyed the first post of this new series – and that you will stick with me on my journey through the Nordic region!