To be a mother in Denmark is pretty good, and I will tell you why - just keep reading.
Photograph: Visit Denmark
Text: Natália Šepitková
Here are five important reasons that may help you decide where to raise your children.
#1 Work-life balance
Maintaining a good balance between time on the job and personal life is one of the fundamental reasons mothers, or women in general, can live a happy life. According to OECD, in Denmark, about 1% of employees work very long hours in paid work, much less than the OECD average of 10%. Evidence suggests that long work hours may impair personal health, jeopardise safety and increase stress. In addition, when people work more, they have less "meet time" for their families. In Denmark, full-time workers devote more of their day, on average, to personal care and leisure than the OECD average of 15 hours. And Denmark has the highest rating of satisfaction with time use.
#2 Equality with partner
Women in Denmark have more significant equality to men than in other countries. When we were writing about work-life balance, it is good to realise that people have paid and unpaid work, which is their daily duty. Unpaid work includes routine housework, shopping for goods and services, caring for household members and non-household members, volunteering, and other unpaid work. Women consistently work longer hours in unpaid work than men. Mothers are especially under pressure – they must care about kids and the household, but many have ambitions to pursue careers too. Up to 71% of Danish women have paid work outside the home, far below the OECD average (62%). Denmark's parental leave policy is also among the most flexible in the European Union. Parents with children born on or after 2 August 2022 are each entitled to 24 weeks of maternity leave benefits after the child's birth. For full-time employees, 11 weeks are designated for each parent, and 26 weeks (13 weeks for each parent) can be shared. This new consolidation act brought working mothers a fantastic opportunity to return to the labour market as soon as possible if they wanted.
"Girls are raised to be independent and strong from a young age, without the need for stereotyping male and female roles and prioritising the male career in the family."
#3 Preference of women in Danish society
Denmark cares about women, and equality is essential to Danes. The Danish governing coalition almost always includes a Minister for Equality (nowadays, Marie Bjerre is appointed as the Minister for Digital Government and Gender Equality), and the Gender Equality Committee has been a part of the Danish Parliament since 2011. Women are highly respected and seen as having equal status as men. Girls are raised to be independent and strong from a young age, without the need for stereotyping male and female roles and prioritising the male career in the family. The number of employees in Danish companies should be gender-balanced; most likely, mothers in many companies have more flexible working hours. The flexible-hours culture in Denmark also means that mothers (but also fathers) can pick up their kids between 3 pm and 4 pm from kindergarten. And it is perfectly okay to do it.
#4 Available and affordable childcare
Women in Denmark have a better opportunity to devote themselves to work and balance it with family life. This is mainly due to relatively short working hours, flexibility in employment and the availability of social institutions such as kindergartens and nurseries. The Danish welfare state subsidises daycare places for children from six months, and the costs of attending kindergarten are also relatively low, as the state contributes a large part of the fees. The government pays 75 percent of the cost of a place or even more if your household income is below a certain threshold. Among other things, parents receive child and youth benefits quarterly, also known as børnepenge. It is from circa 3 000 kr. to 4 800 kr. per child (depending on the child's age), and is tax-free.
#5 Family-friendly environment
US News and World Report ranked Denmark as being the best country to raise children and fourth on Save the Children's 16th annual Mother's Index, which assesses the well-being of mothers and children in 179 countries. Denmark is a child-friendly society that is an excellent place for kids to grow up. Practically in every city district and in the countryside, you will find many creative and safe playgrounds. Children's corners are standard in institutions, doctors' waiting rooms, libraries and cultural centres. But the most important thing I realise as a mother in Denmark is that I live in a country that provides my child with high security and trust, especially in schools and educational institutions.