Why Scandinavian women make the rest of the world jealous

By Lynn Stuart Parramore
October 31, 2013

Icelanders are among the happiest and healthiest people on Earth. They publish more books per capita than any other country, and they have more artists. They boast the most prevalent belief in evolution — and elves, too. Iceland is the world’s most peaceful nation (the cops don’t even carry guns), and the best place for kids. Oh, and they had a lesbian head of state, the world’s first. Granted, the national dish is putrefied shark meat, but you can’t have everything.

Iceland is also the best place to have a uterus, according to the folks at the World Economic Forum. The Global Gender Gap Report ranks countries based on where women have the most equal access to education and healthcare, and where they can participate most fully in the country’s political and economic life.

According to the 2013 report, Icelandic women pretty much have it all. Their sisters in Finland, Norway, and Sweden have it pretty good, too: those countries came in second, third and fourth, respectively. Denmark is not far behind at number seven.

The U.S. comes in at a dismal 23rd, which is a notch down from last year. At least we’re not Yemen, which is dead last out of 136 countries.

So how did a string of countries settled by Vikings become leaders in gender enlightenment? Bloodthirsty raiding parties don’t exactly sound like models of egalitarianism, and the early days weren’t pretty. Medieval Icelandic law prohibited women from bearing arms or even having short hair. Viking women could not be chiefs or judges, and they had to remain silent in assemblies. On the flip side, they could request a divorce and inherit property. But that’s not quite a blueprint for the world’s premier egalitarian society.

The change came with literacy, for one thing. Today almost everybody in Scandinavia can read, a legacy of the Reformation and early Christian missionaries, who were interested in teaching all citizens to read the Bible. Following a long period of turmoil, Nordic states also turned to literacy as a stabilizing force in the late 18th century. By 1842, Sweden had made education compulsory for both boys and girls.

Researchers have found that the more literate the society in general, the more egalitarian it is likely to be, and vice versa. But the literacy rate is very high in the U.S., too, so there must be something else going on in Scandinavia. Turns out that a whole smorgasbord of ingredients makes gender equality a high priority in Nordic countries.

To understand why, let’s take a look at religion. The Scandinavian Lutherans, who turned away from the excesses of the medieval Catholic Church, were concerned about equality — especially the disparity between rich and poor. They thought that individuals had some inherent rights that could not just be bestowed by the powerful, and this may have opened them to the idea of rights for women. Lutheran state churches in Denmark, Sweden, Finland, Norway and Iceland have had female priests since the middle of the 20th century, and today, the Swedish Lutheran Church even has a female archbishop.

Or maybe it’s just that there’s not much religion at all. Scandinavians aren’t big churchgoers. They tend to look at morality from a secular point of view, where there’s not so much obsessive focus on sexual issues and less interest in controlling women’s behavior and activities. Scandinavia’s secularism decoupled sex from sin, and this worked out well for females. They came to be seen as having the right to sexual experience just like men, and reproductive freedom, too. Girls and boys learn about contraception in school (and even the pleasure of orgasms), and most cities have youth clinics where contraceptives are readily available. Women may have an abortion for any reason up to the eighteenth week (they can seek permission from the National Board of Health and Welfare after that), and the issue is not politically controversial.

Scandinavia’s political economy also developed along somewhat different lines than America’s did. Sweden and Norway had some big imperialist adventures, but this behavior declined following the Napoleonic Wars. After that they invested in the military to ward off invaders, but they were less interested in building it up to deal with bloated colonial structures and foreign adventures. Overall Nordic countries devoted fewer resources to the military — the arena where patriarchal values tend to get emphasized and entrenched. Iceland, for example, spends the world’s lowest percentage of GDP on its military.

Industrialization is part of the story, too: it hit the Nordic countries late. In the 19th century, Scandinavia did have a rich and powerful merchant class, but the region never produced the Gilded Age industrial titans and extreme concentration of wealth that happened in America back then, and has returned today. (Income inequality and discrimination of all kinds seem to go hand-in-hand.)

In the 20th century, farmers and workers in the newly populated Nordic cities tended to join together in political coalitions, and they could mount a serious challenge to the business elites, who were relatively weak compared to those in the U.S. Like ordinary people everywhere, Scandinavians wanted a social and economic system where everyone could get a job, expect decent pay, and enjoy a strong social safety net. And that’s what they got — kind of like Roosevelt’s New Deal without all the restrictions added by New York bankers and southern conservatives. Strong trade unions developed, which tend to promote gender equality. The public sector grew, providing women with good job opportunities. Iceland today has the highest rate of union membership out of any OECD country.

Over time, Scandinavian countries became modern social democratic states where wealth is more evenly distributed, education is typically free up through university, and the social safety net allows women to comfortably work and raise a family. Scandinavian moms aren’t agonizing over work-family balance: parents can take a year or more of paid parental leave. Dads are expected to be equal partners in childrearing, and they seem to like it. (Check them out in the adorable photo book, The Swedish Dad.)

The folks up north have just figured out — and it’s not rocket science! — that everybody is better off when men and women share power and influence. They’re not perfect — there’s still some unfinished business about how women are treated in the private sector, and we’ve sensed an undertone of darker forces in pop culture phenoms like The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. But Scandinavians have decided that investment in women is both good for social relations and a smart economic choice. Unsurprisingly, Nordic countries have strong economies and rank high on things like innovation — Sweden is actually ahead of the U.S. on that metric. (So please, no more nonsense about how inequality makes for innovation.)

The good news is that things are getting better for women in most places in the world. But the World Economic Forum report shows that the situation either remains the same or is deteriorating for women in 20 percent of countries.

In the U.S., we’ve evened the playing field in education, and women have good economic opportunities. But according to the WEF, American women lag behind men in terms of health and survival, and they hold relatively few political offices. Both facts become painfully clear every time a Tea Party politician betrays total ignorance of how the female body works. Instead of getting more women to participate in the political process, we’ve got setbacks like a new voter ID law in Texas, which could disenfranchise one-third of the state’s woman voters. That’s not going to help the U.S. become a world leader in gender equality.

Maybe one day we’ll decide to follow the Nordic example. But at the moment, we seem to be moving away from Iceland and closer to Yemen. Is that really what we want?

PHOTO: Denmark’s member of the European Parliament Hanne Dahl votes as she attends with her baby a voting session at the European Parliament in Strasbourg March 26, 2009. REUTERS/Vincent Kessler

47 comments

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Scandinavia is a font of bad ideas that are presented as enlightened. If you like those ideas, go live there. Let the rest of us have something different.

Posted by Chad345 | Report as abusive

Flash1022 I see you can hardly contain your hatred for Whites,or maybe its your jealousy.If we Whites left you’d have nothing but mud left,cesspools like the non-White countries all are.Oh and the nordic countries highlighted in this column won’t be so enlightened once massive non-White immigration has a few more years.Progressives are stupid and silly to think the future is theirs,I’ve seen that talk before.

Posted by stephen22 | Report as abusive

Kind of a silly article.So the author thinks a sucessful society is premised on belief in evolution and having a dirty diaper in your face at a European Parliament session.Yeah lady thats all it takes,you keep thinking that while the men who built the country know better.An economy built on pet bakeries and day spas is as unworkable and nonsensical as the rationale behind this article.The old Vikings are laughing,laughing at you.

Posted by stephen22 | Report as abusive

Why is my post pending approval when the racist rant against Whites apparently went straight through????

Posted by stephen22 | Report as abusive

The population of Iceland is 320,000 or so. To think we can just adapt their ways to a very diverse nation of 320 million is a bit childish. There are some very nice areas in the US that are about that population.

Scandinavian people in the US do very well too, usually better then their counterparts back home. It’s about what you do in life, not what government does for you.

Posted by mrc123 | Report as abusive

ok, so the tea party only believes in smaller govt. nothing to do with keeping women down. i have 2 daughters, both independent, one in law school, another an activist in the environmental movement. one believes in small govt,and one thinks govt can help, both raised by a small or almost non existent govt believer, but both have my support. it shows total ignorance to quote one person on women anatomy etc, to disparage the tea party movement. exactly what is wrong with small, efficient, effective, govt? that is all the tea party is about. your statements show you are ignorant about most things.

Posted by givmeabrk | Report as abusive

Flash1022:

Speaking of being old and dying white, that’s exactly what the vaunted secular egalitarians of Scandinavia are doing. Will the non-western populations who are filling the void perpetuate the old white “progressive” values? There’s no reason to believe that they will.

Time is on your side? I don’t think so.

Posted by CnsrvtvMnrity | Report as abusive

I visited Norway and Denmark on separate occasions more than a decade ago. Beautiful and serene scenery, relatively cool and calm, quiet and conservative.

Posted by boonteetan | Report as abusive

Well, good thing that Flash1022 is here to tell us how “cosmic” the Fascist-Progressives are.

What a lousy bunch of tripe from a news agency.

Posted by JerichoGlenn | Report as abusive

Women’s health in U.S. inferior to men’s health-then why do they live @7 years longer??

Homogeneous population in Nordic countries leads to more accountability & responsibility particularly since most taxes are local and that leads to accountability & social responsibility. hence, women at local levels are more active & gain experience which leads to more acceptance of women at local & national level. High levels of education & lack of minority & non-diverse population leads to better communication & knowledge of what works and what does not work. They also have to be frugal w/government spending which leads to greater efficiency & less corruption

Posted by drdrdr | Report as abusive

Silly. A Utopia made up in the author’s head.

#1, you just try to vote or do anything without your personalnummer. Pretty strict about the whole ID thing over there.

Go get a minimum wage job in Denmark. Good news is you won’t pay income tax on about 10 weeks of full time work. Bad news is you pay 8% payroll, and then 35% plus on everything after those 10 weeks. Work full time for 30 weeks out of the year and you still lose about 25-30% of your income. After that you get to pay a 25% VAT on all goods and services – EVERYTHING (if you are not familiar with VAT v sales tax VAT is much worse). Better than the 5 weeks at 8% and 49.5% tax at minimum wage I paid years ago at least. And then you go to the rest of Scandinavia where they think Danish taxes are cheap!

But hey! You get your lægekort and can just walk* into the doctor for FREE**

* about 4 to 8 weeks from now
** free except for the 35% taxation of minimum wages; price of cotton balls, tongue depressors, bandages, at the time of service; fee;, and the 25% VAT on top of that including medication…

Let’s invent more tales of lefty utopia based on BS metrics and ignorance.

Posted by spidly | Report as abusive

This blog leaves out one main fact of Scandinavia. The five countries combined only have a population of 26 million, less people than Pennsylvania & New York state combined. And the 26 million have virtually no ethic diversity whatsoever. They bear very little resemblance to most other nations, but especially the USA, which besides having more than 12 times as many people, is easily the most ethnically diverse nation in the history of the world. Of course things are less settled and more competitive in the USA. How could they not be?

Posted by logic102 | Report as abusive

Yeah, and they’re such economic geniuses that the whole country went bankrupt.

Oh, and those statistics aren’t so impressive when you realize they have the population of Pittsburgh!

Posted by gooms | Report as abusive

Newsflash, Flash. Progressives do not have time on their side. They are slaughtering their own children as they attempt to murder the underclass. That’s what abortion is all about. Welcome to the New World Order, now toddle off the stage.

Posted by Arlodeetoo | Report as abusive

“American women lag behind men in terms of health and survival, and they hold relatively few political offices”

Lag behind in health and survival? I thought the life expectancy of the American Female to be greater than the Male 81 years versus 76 years, as far as political offices go? There are more women of voting age than men so again not something you can blame on the patriarchy, look in the mirror. I am certain you can find legitimate areas of inequality, without fabricating false ones

Posted by DanKauffman | Report as abusive

“It saddens me conservatism is taking our nation backwards, and that they feel minority values should rule”

Conservatives are about 40% of the population Liberals 21% and Moderates 35% so who do YOU think are Mainstream and Fringe?

Posted by DanKauffman | Report as abusive

Some whoppers and convenient omissions by the arrogant Danish author.

It’s so wise to spend nothing on defense? Yeah, if you like be conquered like Norway and Denmark were in WWII or Nazi collaborators like the Swedes. Iceland because of its strategic location has been protected by the US military the author so disdains. The Finns, who aren’t Scandanavians by the way though the author is clueless about that, spent more on their defense and saved themselves from the Soviets.

And the assertion voter ID laws target woman and would “disenfranchise” one third of women voters is pure partisan drivel.

Posted by Investor612 | Report as abusive

Lynn, you’re a dumb as rocks atheist feminazi.

Iceland has an economic collapse 5 years ago that it is still reeling from in terms of suicides and personal poverty.

Posted by realtruthnow | Report as abusive

We made the biggest mistake when we gave them library cards!

Posted by juder9 | Report as abusive

A simplistic article obviously written by a Reuters 15 C student in a failing public school. Divorce rate? State intrusion into everything in your life. I could go on and on. Your children belong to the State.

Posted by UraFecalLiberal | Report as abusive

“Flash”? You are young. As you age, you will see your fallacy. You might or might not grow more conservative as you age, but most of your friends will. And the harder they worked for what they’ve gotten, the more conservative they will be.

Then, the few lefties left in your group will focus on the young again, and the mess starts all over. Again. And you lefties who have secure employment that doesn’t measure “performance” (I.e. “tenure” or “union”) will get angrier and louder, and begin to look just like Pelosi or act just like Ted Kennedy (waitress sandwiches?). In other words, you WILL BE the turd you are railing about.

Posted by Squiggy | Report as abusive

Obama LIED, Liberalism DIED.

Posted by Armyspouse1988 | Report as abusive

I’ll confess up front to having a visceral prejudice, a working mans, calloused hand prejudice. I reserve any automatic grant of authority to those I respect, and I find it difficult to respect anyone who does not produce something of tangible value to earn their daily bread.
My definition of “Skilled” must differ from that of the authors of this piece of – - – “research”?
A cursory reading of the ‘Global Gender Gap Report’ reveals this innate difference in values;
“the Index includes an indicator comparing the gap between men and women in high-skilled jobs such as Legislators, senior officials and managers” – page 3 (Outcomes vs. means)
“Legislaters”, spans the gap from John Quincy Adams to Huey Long; “Senior Officials” can mean someone of great training and experience valuable to the organization, or, “Senator, I have a niece who just got her degree in ‘Womens Studies’ and I hate to think of that pretty-young thing jostling in the streets with the riff-raff. Don’t you have a nice little office somewhere that needs an ‘Official’? I think $100,000.00 a year to start is equitabhle for one with such skills. Oh, by the way, here’s my contribution to your campaign for this week. You do remember that Bill we spoke of?”
Managers?
Of what?
Snowcone stands?
Shanghai Jimmys Chili Palace?
The Association for the Beautification of the Graves of the Glorious Dead?
There is a vast herd of people in this world who sit in airconditioned comfort, make their morning selection from the ten o’clock coffee cart, and cover blank pages with baffle-gab that has no more lasting value than a plastic picket.
There, I feel much better.

Posted by thelastminstrel | Report as abusive

If we want to explain Scandinavian society, we may first read a library full with theories and descriptions of European developments during the last millennium, then another library on countries around the North Sea, and finally a library on Scandinavia. :-)

Posted by peterwerff | Report as abusive

It warms my heart to see once again the left has over reached and young critical thinkers are recognizing the failure that is progressive socialism.

Posted by elangdon1955 | Report as abusive

Hmmm. I guess it didn’t occur to the author of this piece to mention the nearly homogeneous nature of Scandinavian culture? They are the least diverse populations in the world with historically low levels of immigration and religious variation. So, in addition to emulating their social policy, as the author suggests, perhaps we should emulate their lack of diversity?

Correlation vs. causation, people. I dearly wish that journalists pushing childish narratives would consider taking a basic course in statistics and scientific methodology.

Posted by sgarvey | Report as abusive

this article is a ridiculous distortion of the facts. the reason why Scandinavia can afford all this socialism is because they are small, with huge natural resources. Norway has an unbelievable amount of oil income that it distributes to everyone, just like Alaska.

and when countries like the U.S. defend you, you don’t NEED to spend money on defense. see how easy that is?

I guarantee you if these countries were threatened, this writer would be scolding the U.S. if it didn’t come to their aid.

Posted by Dogstar59 | Report as abusive

It passes credibility to compare the happiness factor of a country that has a population less than 350,000 people versus the happiness factor of a countries like the U.S that have in excess of 300,000,000 people or China which as of November 2013 has 1,360,000,000 people.

The order of magnitudes destroy this article’s basic premise.

This is an embarrassing article to read from a media company with Reuter’s international stature.

Everyone has an axe to grind, but this kind of analysis is beyond ridiculous and entirely hogwash.

I am so sorry.

Posted by JaisonJRaju | Report as abusive

Chad, Scandinavia has had to turn away from the socialist models of the 80′s that you seem so afraid of, mixing in market-based solutions that work for everyone in society. More importantly, they treat each other like basic human beings which is a far better idea than America has ever had. Never been to the volcanic island but I was amazed at how much better and more advanced the countries are up there in almost every single way than the USA- from Norway to even wage-pressured Estonia.

Posted by andrewi31 | Report as abusive

and why on earth would a voter ID law disenfranchise 1/3 of the women voters???

Let’s talk about why that would happen. . .that seems to be a much bigger problem then whether or not to have a voter ID law. . .

Posted by der33 | Report as abusive

Those scandinavian women are all disenfranchised, because you don’t do anything without your personalnummer (ID) especially not vote.

It is amazing how people can build a utopian fiction up in their heads. Let’s go to Denmark and pay 8% of our minimum wage income for a doctor we can’t see. Let’s pay 35% income tax on our minimum wage (49.5% last time I worked there). Let’s pay 25% VAT on everything including food and medicine after 35% of our minimum wage has bee taken. Danes get off cheap too!

No it is not all free and easy. About 40% of Swedes fall under the US federal poverty line… but you do get your lægekort and can go right* in to the doctor for FREE**

*4-8 weeks for your primary care physician
**FREE does not include the 8% of your income from dollar 1, or the cost of the bandages, swabs, etc. that you pay for at the time of your visit, or the VAT you pay on those items

Posted by spidly | Report as abusive

I am a scandinavian woman and I can testify that it is awesome. We are well educated, hold great jobs with high salaries, we able to do what ever we want, I view the opportunities for us as endless and we are very optimistic. This is the way it should be. Makes me sorry to read about how backwards the situation is in so many places of the world, I am surprised at how bad it is in the US.

Posted by Pernilla_S | Report as abusive

I’ll contribute to this discussion as someone who has actually grown up in the U.S. and lived the last 6 years in both Iceland and Denmark. First, I moved to Iceland right before the economic collapse and I can say that the standard of life was still extremely high after the collapse onward to today. A lot of people had/have debt and that is burden, but they seem to be doing fine and economically, the country has made strides. The unemployment rate e.g. dropped from above 9% to 4.6% today. It should also be noted that Iceland’s debt is unambiguously a product of right-wing market liberalization that their right-wing political parties enacted in the 2000s preceding the global economic crisis…The other Nordics in this case did not suffer as great losses as Iceland due to their stricter credit systems.

Taxes are indeed high throughout the Nordics, but I’d argue with e.g. high VAT, you make sure that spending is prioritized for what matters, such as health care funding and education. When I’ve needed to use the health care system, it has functioned flawlessly. When I tried to use my American insurance in the U.S., I had so many issues all the time.

Women do seem more independent and people, despite the economic climate, definitely seem less stressed compared to Americans. People know that there is a safety net in place if something goes wrong and cases of abuse are so much rarer than people assume. I can never understand how people (namely Americans) are so eager to dismantle/fight safety nets due to the perceived threat that suddenly they will be abused by so many people. The truth is that the collective well-being due to their existence far outweighs any cases of abuse.

To everyone saying that comparisons to the Nordic model are irrelevant due to a lack of diversity, please…If all the success is due to homogeneity, why aren’t we seeing great equality and innovation in areas of the U.S. with low diversity (South Dakota?). Also, if you’re going to bash the Nordic model as broken, come see it and evaluate it by asking people how they feel about their governments and taxes. You will find a highly prosperous, well educated and largely happy population. You will also find that most people are very happy with their systems and wouldn’t significantly alter them. You’d be hard-pressed to find people who want privatized healthcare.

Admittedly, nothing is perfect, but I can at least anecdotally tell you that in my extensive travels throughout the U.S. and the Nordics, the condition of the poor/working poor/lower middle class in the U.S. is embarrassingly worse. Having the government aid you to e.g. get an education, allow you to seek healthcare without the fear of debt, be able to choose a career without worrying about what your parents did (and how their financial resources can help you), contributes positively to upward mobility and general well being. There can be legitimate criticisms of elements in the Nordic model, but so far all I see is empty, uninformed ranting on forums like these from people who often have never truly even entertained the thought that left-wing social policies aren’t the root of all evil and importantly, who likely have never travelled outside North America to observe life in significantly different political systems.

The reality is that essentially any American who is not in the top 85-90% of income earners would have a higher quality of life in the Nordic countries, with less likelihood of incurring debt for healthcare or education and a greater likelihood of upward mobility. If you want statistics, track some down from unbiased institutions. There are a lot of data to back my statements up, beside my anecdotes. (an anecdote is at least based on some experience and thus superior to pure speculation like what I see from most of the negative commentators).

Posted by ScandiMich | Report as abusive

Part of the problem in the US and UK is the obsessive focus on side issues. Feminist campaigners, campaigners for gay rights or any minority rights obscure the basic point.

Rights are either universal and indivisible or meaningless.

We should be campaigning for equality. The minute you prefix that word with anything, be it ‘gender’, ‘racial’ or whatever, you have fatally undermined the cause.

Posted by Urban_Guerilla | Report as abusive

Interesting article until you interjected the gibberish about the Tea party and the voter id.

Posted by jorge62 | Report as abusive

Thanks to ‘ ScandiMich ‘ for a real world view of the situation reported. As to the rest of you, hope you feel better having gotten whatever it is off your chest… we don’t.

Posted by euro-yank | Report as abusive

This article is the musings of some liberal believer.

This proselytizing for the collectivist religion is obnoxious to us individualists.

My relatives in Sweden are immigrating to the US to get away from this poison, but it is already here.

Posted by Clarkmag | Report as abusive

Scandinavia sounds idyllic today, but it wasn’t always so. Until the 20th Century, the Nordic countries were backwards, rural societies ruled by a grasping aristocracy/oligarchy and, in the words of the author, “a rich and powerful merchant class,” using the Lutheran Church as a moral cudgel.(See Ibsen, Carl Dreyer, & Ingmar Bergman for details).
Even as recently as the 20′s, Scandinavia was a rather stern region, noted for winter sports and blinding blondeness. It was only after the Second World War, with Sweden emerging as an unscathed powerhouse of industry, resources and money, and Norway newly rich as the result of North Sea oil, was Scandinavia able to afford its present comfy, Hobbit-like way of life and turn its attention to social matters.

Posted by MossyMorse1118 | Report as abusive

I don’t know where people get the idea that the U.S. is the most diverse country in the world. By percentage, even Sweden has more immigrants than the United States, and it is even truer for countries like Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and Israel.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_cou ntries_by_foreign-born_population

Posted by kenneththomas | Report as abusive

From all the ignorant racist rants from the conservative Tea-baggers on here, it’s easy to see why the U.S is falling behind the rest of the world in just about every measure. But according to these enlightened folks all would be well if the U.S. was just pure white and much smaller.Seriously? (And if women knew their place). May God/somebody save us from these cavemen/cavewomen.It drives them even more nuts then they already are to see liberal socialism succeed!

Posted by dochi1958 | Report as abusive

I agree, this is a totally silly article. I am a minority woman in the U.S. and comparing such a small homogeneously populated country to the large, diverse U.S. is not a reasonable comparison. In the U.S. you have diversity of races, religions, education levels, ignorance levels, and on and on and on! This article becomes “obviously” biased when they throw in a mention of Tea Party not “knowing how a female body works!” THAT IS LAUGHABLE…BLA, BLA..BLA! Another mouth piece..an obsessed liberal…Lynn Parramore.

Posted by DRVV | Report as abusive

Okay the first thing you should know is the Vikings were enlightened to start with. Women retained ownership of everything they brought into the marriage including their dowry and they could own land, Marriages were arranged but they could get divorced easily. The woman of the house wore the keys to all the buildings tied around her waist as a sign of her authority and responsibility. Her husband could own the land but she owned the house.
Free woman’s children were protected by law and recognized as the property of their mother. Even after divorce the children were entitled to inheritance. Babies and toddlers could not be taken off their mother by their father. Older children were divided between the parents depending on the wealth and status of the two families.
Women were not hurt in attacks and it was considered shameful if you hit a woman.
Women could go out with the men on boats when not raiding. Vikings were known to write poetry to their wives.
Women were seen as valuable members of society, even if there were many things they couldn’t do. They were considered equals not their husbands property.

Posted by Brin1956 | Report as abusive

Good and affordable day-care and schools are important factors too.

Posted by Finnish | Report as abusive

I would like to tell all the ignorant commentors something about my country. I went to grammar school for 9 years, completely free of any fees. After that I went to HS, again, free of any fees. I went through university and got my Masters Degree, again free of any fees, and graduated debtless. During my studies in uni, I was diagnosed with breast cancer. I had alot of treatments during my battle, but I came out of it alive and healthy. How much debt did I have after such massive treatments? None. I started working, earned 4300 usd (3200euro), and paid taxes about 30%. Few years after,I became pregnant, and because of me previous health issues I was under tight watch and spent the last 2 months in hospital. Again, no debts. I had my first child, and during my maternity leave I was paid 70% of my salary. When my child was 3yrs old, he went to daycare, which cost me 300 usd per month. When my child was 6, he went to preschool that has no fees. In the grades 1 and 2 our city has to find afterschool program for the child, it is mandatory. Often these programs are gov run or organisations, so they are free, you only pay for the snacks they get there, and that will cost the parent 40usd per month.
Someone said that I LOSE 25-30% of my income. That must be a rightwinger, who does not value or respect equality and I do feel sorry for everyone like him. I am more independent than alot of men in USA, I think that might be the reason why these men feel so threatened about our way of life.
Ignorance is a bliss they say, feel free to stay that way, I believe in educating yourself :)

Posted by IhanaNainen | Report as abusive

I would like to live in Iceland, I think it is one of the most peaceful places to live in this planet.

Posted by Pepe1 | Report as abusive

“The folks up north have just figured out — and it’s not rocket science! — that everybody is better off when men and women share power and influence.”
Love the article! I grew up in Norway and think this is all very right, the Scandinavians are good at equal right among men and women. Its not perfect, there are still issues, but from my point of view it is much harder to be a women in USA than in Norway.
This is stuff I would love to write more about in my own newly started blog http://www.liseinamerica.blog.com. Check it out!
Lise

Posted by Lisekv | Report as abusive

[…] that Scandinavians and Nordic nations do a lot of things better than other countries. They have the smallest gender gaps, among the highest test scores, and the lowest levels of […]

Here are my thoughts on Icelandic Beauty http://www.richtrek.com/2011/05/hot-wome n-in-iceland.html

Posted by RichTrek.com | Report as abusive