Social Inclusion or Gender Equality? Political Discourses on Parental Leave in Finland and Sweden

Mikael Nygård, Ann-Zofie Duvander

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

5 Citations (Scopus)
47 Downloads (Pure)


During the 2010s, both Finland and Sweden made advancements in their parental leave systems by widening the right to paid parental leave to a greater diversity of family constellations and investing in gender-equal leave distribution through longer leave periods reserved for the father. However, in the latter respect, Sweden has remained more successful than Finland. This article analyses government and political party discourses in Finland and Sweden during the 2010s in pursuit of an explanation to this difference and for understanding how ideas on social inclusion and gender equality have been used to drive, or block, policy reforms in the field of parental leave. The results show that the parental leave discourses have become influenced by ideas on social inclusion and gender equality in both countries, but in somewhat different ways. While gender equality has retained a stronger position in the Swedish discourse and its policy, social inclusion, and notably the rights of same-sex parents, have become more visible in the Finnish. However, the results also show that both ideas have remained contested on a party level, especially by confessional and nationalist-populist parties.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)300–312
JournalSocial Inclusion
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2021
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed
EventEspanet2021 ONLINE Conference : Up for the Future? Social policies in challenged societies - Leuven, Leuven, Netherlands
Duration: 31 Aug 20213 Sept 2021


  • Parental leave policy
  • Finland
  • Sweden
  • Discource
  • Gender equality


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