Family is first for Swedish professor

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Family is first for Swedish professor


Ann-Zofie Duvander

Ann-Zofie Duvander is a working mom with two daughters under the age of 7. A professor of demography at Stockholm University, she leaves work at 4 p.m. three days a week to pick up her kids from day care before preparing dinner for her family. On the other two days of the week, she works until 7 p.m., while her husband finishes work early instead.

For Koreans this balancing act between work and family may sound unusual, but to those in Sweden it’s commonplace.

“In Sweden, family affairs take precedence over any important matters in the workplace,” Duvander said in a recent interview with the Joong-Ang Ilbo. “There are no meetings before 9 a.m. or after 4 p.m. to help working parents.”

Duvander was in Seoul to attend a two-day international symposium dubbed “Balancing Work and Family: Current Issues and Policy Directions” held by the Korean Women’s Development Institute from Aug. 25.

“Sweden is a country with advanced family policies that balance work and family, even among European countries,” she added.

According to Duvander, her nation faced a labor shortage in the 1970s and the Swedish government adopted policies to draw women to the labor market instead of bringing in immigrant workers. As a result, Sweden has successfully maintained a fertility rate of two children, high for a developed country.

Female labor force participation is around 80 percent - almost the same rate as men.

Major family policies include parental leave of up to 16 months, day care services that 74 percent of Swedish children aged under 3 attend and measures to encourage fathers to take the initiative in childcare.

“For the development of family policies, social awareness and legal systems are needed. The public sector should take the lead in reform,” said Duvander.

By Kim Eun-ha JoongAng Ilbo []

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