By Megan Mahoney, Middlebury College ’19
After living in Stockholm for four months, I can honestly say, I don’t want to leave. I have grown to love the openness of the sophisticated Swedish society and the natural beauty that surrounds Stockholm. I have been constantly inspired by my Swedish friends. Many of my conversations with them have left me invigorated and excited for the future our generation will create.
After reflecting on my semester and how I have grown, it is easy for me to pinpoint the impact Swedish culture has had on my life. Sweden has completely empowered me to know that as I woman, I can have it all. There should be no limits to the respect, opportunities, and aspirations I have for myself.
Sweden takes a modern approach to women’s rights, supporting women in the workplace through a healthy work-life balance. Sweden has found a way to cultivate a healthy work-life balance that I am determined to strive to achieve for American women when I return to the United States and after I graduate!
One way in which Sweden empowers women (and men) is due to their incredibly generous parental leave policies. Parents get up to 480 days to share and are paid 80% of their salary during this time. This policy allows women to also continue their careers and not feel forced to choose between their career and motherhood. Additional policies are in place to enforce companies with gender disparities in their organizational makeup to work towards closing the pay gap – or else they are fined.
I am confident that both the United States and Sweden want to give back and create a better world through their governmental policies. In the future, I hope that the US will follow Sweden’s lead to create a more just work-life balance for women. The policies Sweden has implemented are a great starting point. Additionally, education is always the answer. We can always improve awareness pertaining to women’s rights, violence prevention, and the country’s expectations of its citizens, which will lead to more female leaders emerging.
Thank you Sweden for everything. Thank you for teaching me that I too can have it all.
Megan Mahoney is majoring in Political Science and double minoring in Global Health and Education Studies at Middlebury College. She studied at The Swedish Program during the Spring 2018 semester.