The changing face of motherhood in Finland
Finland has consistently been ranked as one of the top ten places in the world to be a mother. In 2011, the country ranked 7th in the Save the Children 2011 State of the World’s Mothers index just behind Norway, New Zealand, Australia and the other Nordic countries. The differences between these countries are minimal, with Finland falling slightly behind in terms of the length of and the remuneration available during maternity leave.
The OECD Report on Family Wellbeing shows that the proportion of children born to unmarried couples in Finland is quite high. It also confirms that the number of single parents — mostly mothers — is expected to rise and with it child poverty. The issue of single parenthood is widely discussed in Finland - and hitherto has been kept in check thanks to the generous social welfare system. Finnish society values and prioritises the provision of good care during pregnancy and childbirth, access to education for children and adolescents, providing opportunities for women to work in paid employment, and the participation of women in government.
The active participation of women in working life has helped to steer the development of legislation to focus on the care of small children and job protection for parents. The aim of Finnish family policy has been to make a combination of work and childcare easier. The Finnish government provides various forms of financial support and childcare arrangements to alleviate childcare costs for families. As in other parts of Europe, reconciling paid employment and family life is one of the major challenges facing Finnish mothers today. Increasing demands for efficiency at work and greater uncertainty around job security have placed further pressure on both parents. Work-related stress, pressure of time and unemployment are all factors that make the lives of mothers with children more difficult.
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The Changing Face of Motherhood research was commissioned by Procter & Gamble (P&G)