Swedish Report Profiles ‘New Man’ With AM-Women’s Conference
NAIROBI, Kenya (AP) _ He’s Swedish, university-educated, has a good income as a social worker, technician or engineer, and spends a large part of his 65-hour work week cleaning house and minding the baby.
He’s a Scandinavian ″new man.″
And he is being actively promoted by the Swedish government in advertisements depicting mothering as manly. They are aimed at encouraging men to take advantage of legislation that offers them nine months of paid parental leave.
The ″new man″ was profiled in a report issued to delegates at the 11-day U.N. Decade for Women conference that ends Friday.
Ylva Ericsson, a Swedish politial consultant who polled 5,000 men for the report, said 22 percent of Sweden’s men are taking advantage of the parental leave legislation.
As a result, the division of labor in the home is becoming more evenly divided between women and men who report enjoying ″the golden opportunity″ of parenting, Ms. Ericsson said.
″The question of equality in Sweden and in most countries has been a discussion by women and for women,″ said Ms. Ericsson.
But until men and women start working together, equality won’t be reached, she told the delegates.
Swedish males now most closely fitting the description of the ″new man″ are between 25 and 35, earn a middle to high income and work in ″soft areas″ -social-oriented or service jobs where they are likely to be work alongside women as equals, Ms. Ericsson said.
He is married to a university-educated working woman and participates more in childcare because of the government’s parental leave, she addes.
The government is promoting the trend in television spots and newspaper advertisements, some depicting heavily muscled men caring for a diapered infant.
Some conference delegates snickered at the report.
Margaret Mitchell, a member of Canada’s federal parliament from Vancouver, said it was progressive and in line with Sweden’s introduction of universal daycare more than 20 years ago.
But she also said it was unlikely the Canadian government, trying to deal with 11 percent unemployment, would support paid leave for both working parents.
Greek delegates earlier proposed that the conference pass a resolution calling on countries to pass laws creating leave for both parents.
″Unless men enter this game of bringing up the children we will never have liberation,″ said Chryssanthi Laioy-Anthony, who heads the Greek Council for Equality.