The current system of Sweden allows parents to stay at home with their child during 480 days.
Johan Bävman is a talented Swedish photojournalist, who worked as a staff photographer at Sydsvenskan, one of the largest newspapers in Sweden. When Johan‘s son Viggo was born three years ago, he decided to take a deeper look at his country’s extremely generous parental leave policies. “In order to promote a more equal sharing of parental leave between men and women, a so called ‘equality bonus’ has also been introduced. The more days that are shared between parents, the higher the bonus,” Bävman explaines.
“I started this project when I was home with my own son. I had a hard time finding anything that was written for me as a father. So I got the idea that I wanted to document fathers during their parent leave, to hear why they wanted to be home with their children and what they hoped to learn from it.”
For his series “Swedish Dads”, Johan Bävman captured and interviewed 45 fathers he met through Sweden’s open daycares and special parent groups. He is looking for a total of 60 fathers to photograph, to symbolize the 60 days of parental leave they’re allowed in Sweden.
No other country provides such generous terms of parental leave as Sweden. The current system allows parents to stay at home with their child during 480 days in total – while receiving an allowance from the State. Out of these 480 days, sixty must be taken by the father or else are lost. Legislation is underway to reserve another thirty days for paternity leave. The purpose of this allocation is to improve gender equality. In order to promote a more equal sharing of parental leave between men and women, a so called equality bonus has also been introduced. The more days that are shared between parents, the higher the bonus. A couple may receive up to 1500 euros in bonus. In spite of the generous allowance and bonus – unique in their kind – only a fraction of Sweden’s dads use all their sixty days of parental leave. Even fewer parents choose to share the days equally between mother and father. Johan Bävman’s ongoing photo project builds on portraits of dads on paternity leave that are among those few that have chosen to stay at home with their child for at least six months. With this project, Johan Bävman wants to find out why these dads have chosen to stay at home so much longer with their child than the majority of Swedish dads. What has this given them, how have their relations to partners as well as child changed, and what were their expectations before taking parental leave? The purpose of the project is to describe the background to Sweden’s unique parental allowance, and to inspire other fathers in Sweden as well as in other countries to consider the positive benefits of such a system.