5 Feminist Policies Around The World We Can Learn From
Some Americans like to think of the United States as a the beacon of progressiveness. But there are a lot of feminist policies from around the world that we can still learn from. Gender inequality is a problem in many different countries — I'd venture to say most — but a number of countries, counties, and cities also have some refreshingly feminist laws and customs.
According to a YouGov report from last year, the countries with the most gender equality are concentrated in Europe, particularly Scandinavia. Sweden ranked number one, with people viewing men and women in almost exactly the same way. Finland and Denmark came next. The World Economic Forum's 2015 Gender Gap Report tells a similar story: Iceland has the lowest pay and opportunity gap between men and women, followed by Norway and Finland. The United States is all the way down at number 28.
Some of these differences between countries can be attributed to differences in culture and attitudes. Others are owed to specific laws and policies. Here are a few progressive policies from around the world that other governments might want to take note of if they want to advance gender equality in their countries.
In July, the county of Nottinghamshire expanded its definition of hate crimes to include "misogyny hate crimes," defined as "incidents against women that are motivated by an attitude of a man towards a woman, and includes behavior targeted towards a woman by men simply because they are a woman," and street harassment is among them. This decision makes a lot of sense, since street harassment is often a way to express power over women and other oppressed people.
2. Sweden Requires 16 Months Of Paid Parental Leave Per Family
That's not even the best part: The country also requires that fathers take at least three of those months, or else they go to waste. That's a great way to encourage a more equal division of labor in heterosexual relationships, where women still tend to do most of the housework.
France requires advertisements to include a "photograph edited" note when bodies have been Photoshopped so that viewers don't get an unrealistic idea of what people look like.
This summer, Transport for London decided to ban ads that encourage body negativity through phrases like "bikini body" from trains, buses, and other public transportation. The decision came in response to criticism of a Protein World ad that asked, "Are you beach body ready?" London's Mayor Sadiq Khan said in a a press release that "nobody should feel pressurized, while they travel on the Tube or bus, into unrealistic expectations surrounding their bodies and I want to send a clear message to the advertising industry about this."
5. Norway Requires Companies Boards To Be At Least 40 Percent Female
As of 2013, Norwegian companies with women constituting fewer than 40 percent of their boards get shut down by the government. Germany has a similar law requiring that 30 percent of boardroom seats go to women. Among the S.&P. 500 in the the United States, on the other hand, only 19 percent of board directors are women. It all goes to show there's a lot we can learn from our friends across the ocean.