Sweden was the first country in the world to replace maternity leave with parental leave, in 1974. More than 40 years later, fathers take roughly 25 per cent of the total number of days available to the couple. If fathers’ paternity leave continues to increase at the same pace it has kept so far during the 21st century, the use of parental leave will not be gender equal until 2040.
Swedish Dads is a photo exhibition based on portraits of fathers who choose to stay home with their babies for at least six months. Photographer Johan Bävman examines why these fathers have chosen to stay home with their children, what the experience has given them, and how their relationship with both their partners and their children has changed as a result. The exhibition aims to show the effects of gender equality in parenting on both individuals and society.
In his own words
‘I use portraits of fathers with their children in everyday situations, and interviews with dads to aim the spotlight on fathers who prioritise the connection to their children and family before their job and career. But the focus is also on the universal and loving aspects of parenting, regardless of whether you are the mother or father.
‘During my own paternity leave, I had trouble finding information about parenting from a father’s perspective. From reading and seeing other dads who share their thoughts and ideas about parenting, perhaps more men will start to think about their role as a father and as a partner. I think that is an important step on the road towards a more equal society.’ Johan Bävman
Johan Bävman, born in 1982, is a freelance photographer based in Malmö, Sweden. The photo project Swedish Dads has had a huge impact as it has been shown around the world and been published in book form in English. Johan has received many awards for his images, including World Press Photo, POY, the Sony Award, NPPA, UNICEF Photography Award, Swedish news agency TT’s grand prize, and Picture of the Year in Sweden.
Fact Box :
Sweden’s parental benefit system is one of the most generous in the world, allowing parents to stay home with their children and receive compensation from the state. One child entitles parents to 480 days of benefits. For the first 390 days parents are entitled to nearly 80 per cent of their pay, up to a maximum level. The remaining 90 days are paid at a lower fixed rate. Of the first 390 days, 90 are reserved for each parent while the rest can be transferred freely.
This exhibition is produced by the Swedish Institute (SI) in cooperation with the Embassy of Sweden Section Office in Yangon.