When Swedish dad and freelance photographer Johan Bävman had a son, he decided to take a deeper look at his country’s extremely generous parental leave policies.
Sweden’s welfare system offers parents 480 paid days of parental leave for Swedish dads, who receive 80 percent of their salary over this period. The purpose of this generous allocation is to promote gender equality. In order to encourage men and women to share their parental leave more equally, a so-called ‘equality bonus’ has also been introduced. The more days divided equally between parents, the higher the bonus.
Bavman’s photo essay is based on portraits of Swedish dads who belong to that small percentage who choose to stay at home with their child for at least six months.
“With this project I wanted to find out why these men have chosen to stay at home; what has it done for them, how have their relationships with their partner and their child changed, and what expectations did they have before taking parental leave,” he said.
The photos are currently being hung on the wall surrounding the Swedish Embassy in Vietnam as part of an on-going exhibition entitled Swedish Dads.
Swedish Ambassador Camilla Mellander said the purpose of the exhibition was to improve gender equality and to promote equal sharing of parental leave between men and women.
“It is also our local contribution to the HeForShe campaign launched by UNWomen. The Swedish government is a strong supporter of gender equality and is pursuing a feminist foreign policy,” she said.
Mikael Sandstrom, a Swedish dad of two children living in Vietnam who attended the launch of the exhibition said that “the mutual understanding and respect between me and my wife is one of the biggest benefits of being on parental leave. When you share the same experience it is amplified and you enjoy the wonders of being a parent much more”.
Also attending the launch event was Vietnamese film director Tran Luc, who is a Good Will Ambassador and a Vietnamese father of three. For him “becoming a father is one of the greatest things in life. But becoming a good father is not something you learn overnight, and it takes a lot of effort, time and patience and love on top of everything.