• Denmark's news in English
 
app_header_v3
Expats praise Denmark's 'progressive' gender equality
Denmark was recently declared the best country in the world for women. Photo: Moyan Brenn

Expats praise Denmark's 'progressive' gender equality

Christopher Manion · 8 Mar 2016, 15:37

Published: 08 Mar 2016 15:37 GMT+01:00

On Tuesday the world celebrates International Women’s Day, marking the economic, social and political achievements of women and helping to raise awareness of issues that still face many women around the world.

Denmark has an exceptionally special relationship with International Women’s Day. It was in Copenhagen in 1910 that a German woman named Clara Zetkin first put forward the idea of having a day across the world that highlighted and protested social issues that plagued women.

The proposal was met with unanimous support by over 100 influential women from 17 different countries. The following year International Women’s Day was celebrated for the first time on  March 19th, 1911 in Denmark, Austria, Germany and Switzerland, with over one million men and women campaigning for a woman’s right to work.

While Denmark may not recognise the day as an official holiday like in countries such as China, Russia, Vietnam and Bulgaria, the small Scandinavian country that was the birth place of the global celebration still boasts an impressive record when it comes to women’s rights.

So impressive in fact that Denmark was recently ranked as the number one country in world for women, according to U.S. News and World report released in January.

See also: Denmark is world's best country for women

The report praised Denmark’s generous welfare state, free education and health care and its flexible parental leave policy.

“They may pay among the world’s highest taxes, endure long winters and watch the sunset before 4pm, but Danish women still remain the envy of many in the world,” the report stated. 

So it may all be fantastic for Danish women, even with the harsh winters and high taxes, but is Denmark just as utopian for non-Danish women living here?

The Local had a talk with some international women living in Denmark and the people helping women come to Denmark to see if the small northern European country lives up to all of its international hype and praise.

American student Alysia Grapek came to Denmark from the US two years ago and has found her new home to be a much more progressive country when it comes to gender equality. She praised the way women's issues are an ingrained part of the state-funded health system.

“Gender equality is less of an issue here than in the US. There, I had to worry about the basic rights, like the right to screening for ovarian cancer if my income was low. In Denmark, it is made a right like any other medical service,” she said.

Grapek said that in the US she experienced workplace gender discrimination, a situation she hasn't faced in Denmark.

“I experienced inequality first hand at a job I had at high school in the US, where I was passed up for a promotion that went to my male colleague due to the fact I was a woman, and was told so straight up. I certainly haven't experienced that here,” she said.

Alysia Grapek said gender equality is a built-in part of life in Denmark. Photo: Submitted

Silvia Schena has been pursuing her Master’s degree at the University of Southern Denmark for one year now and has observed a striking difference in Denmark’s workplace gender balance at university, compared to her home country of Italy.

“Definitely Denmark is more progressive than Italy when it comes to gender equality. I think one obvious indicator is the number of women working in the university as professors and researchers,” Schena said.

Story continues below…

Denmark's welfare system may be confusing maze to navigate for many women coming from a plethora of different cultures, but there is a rich support network in order to help women find their feet here.

See also: Six reasons it's great to be a mum in Copenhagen

International Community Odense, on the island of Funen, is one such organisation at the forefront of providing families, expats and students coming to Denmark with support to help set up their new Danish lives.

“We work quite a lot with international women in Denmark. Women coming to Denmark have a lot of questions about child care, day care facilities, as well as pregnancy and maternity leave,” International Community Odense’s student assistant Živile Petronyte told The Local.

Petronyte said that the parental leave provided by the Danish welfare system allows for women from different countries living in Denmark to still pursue their career aspirations, a situation that is not as common in her home country of Lithuania.

“It is very common in Denmark to see fathers with their young babies on their parental leave, looking after the children while the mothers are taking care of their careers. In Lithuania it is not so common yet, but hopefully it will be,” she said. 

For more news from Denmark, join us on Facebook and Twitter.

Christopher Manion (cmanion@hotmail.co.uk)

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
Denmark aims for ‘first smoke-free generation'
Photo: Kyrre Lien/Scanpix

The Danish government on Wednesday released the details of what it called a “historic" plan to combat cancer.

Denmark takes small step towards medicinal cannabis
A cannabis plant. Photo: Coleen Whitfield/Flickr

A trial programme gets the okay in southern Denmark.

Danish police chase clues in motorway ‘stone murder’ case
Police technicians look for clues on the overpass. Photo: Kim Rune/Scanpix

Local residents and businesses have offered to put up rewards for information.

Danish MPs to visit Australia's Nauru migrant camp
Johanne Schmidt-Nielsen said she'd use the trip as a fact-finding mission on Australia's "grotesque" system. Photo: MARIE HALD/Scanpix

One lawmaker vows to "ask some of the questions that the Australian government is preventing journalists from asking."

Danish MP: EU a bigger threat than Russia
Russian President Vladimir Putin meets with Crimean officials last week in a hand-out photo from the Kremlin. Photo: Sputnik/Kremlin/Alexei Nikolsk/Scanpix

Danish People’s Party MP Marie Krarup is under fire for saying that the EU is “without a doubt” a bigger threat to Denmark than Russia.

Denmark to get year’s ‘last summer weather’
Time for one last trip to the beach? Photo: Thomas Rousing/Flickr

Temperatures could reach as high as 30C by week’s end in what is likely summer’s final hurrah.

Copenhagen vehicle fires continue for third night
The Copenhagen car fires have drawn comparisons to a similar spate of incidents in Malmö, pictured here. Photo: Johan Nilsson/Scanpix

For the third night in a row, Copenhagen Police reported that vehicles in the city had been torched by unknown arsonists.

Two straight nights of car fires in Copenhagen
The Copenhagen incidents come after a spate of more than 70 car fires in Malmö, as pictured here. Photo: Johan Nilsson / TT/Scanpix

Has Sweden's spate of car fires now spread to Denmark?

Photo gallery
IN PICS: Record crowd shows its Pride in Copenhagen
The parade started in Frederiksberg and ended at Copenhagen's City Hall Square. Photo: Nils Meilvang/Scanpix

The biggest ever Copenhagen Pride peaked in grand style over the weekend as the annual parade worked its way through the heart of the city.

Per capita, Denmark is Europe’s Olympic champ
Swimmer Pernille Blume's gold and bronze medals were two of the 15 won by Denmark. Photo: Jens Nørgaard Larsen/Scanpix

Only four countries in the world had a better per capita medal haul than Denmark.

Sponsored Article
Why you should attend an international job fair
Per capita, Denmark is Europe’s Olympic champ
Sport
Denmark is Europe’s Olympic (per capita) champion
Sponsored Article
Jordan: where history meets adventure
Female jogger left 'near death' in Copenhagen attack
National
Female jogger left 'near death' in Copenhagen attack
EU breathes down Denmark’s neck over bad air quality
National
EU breathes down Denmark’s neck over bad air quality
Sponsored Article
Why expats choose international health insurance
Foreigners fill more than half of all new jobs in Denmark
Business & Money
Foreigners fill more than half of all new jobs in Denmark
Sponsored Article
Why you should attend an international job fair
Why you should learn Danish (and how it will benefit you)
Society
Why you should learn Danish (and how it will benefit you)
Robbed in Rio: Danish Olympic team hit by thieves
Sport
Robbed in Rio: Danish Olympic team hit by thieves
Danish jets have bombed Syria for the first time
Danish jets have bombed Syria for the first time
Danish Muslim graveyard offers to bury French terrorist
National
Danish Muslim graveyard offers to bury French terrorist
Sponsored Article
Five things Americans should know about voting abroad
Danish Pokémon Go player finds dead body
Technology
Danish Pokémon Go player finds dead body
Danish MP: Ban Muslim immigration to Denmark
National
Danish MP: Ban Muslim immigration to Denmark
Sponsored Article
Why expats choose international health insurance
Denmark can't keep up with trove of ancient discoveries
Denmark can't keep up with trove of ancient discoveries
Sponsored Article
Malmö to host global skateboard championship
Our complete coverage from the 2016 Roskilde Festival
Culture
Our complete coverage from the 2016 Roskilde Festival
Danish police use infamous 'jewellery law' for first time
National
Danish police use infamous 'jewellery law' for first time
Sponsored Article
Why Jordan is the ‘Different’ East
National
Danes with foreign spouses to be hit by new restriction
Sponsored Article
Life in Jordan: 'Undiscovered treasure'
International
After Brexit, Danish PM resists calls for similar EU referendum
Sponsored Article
Jordan Pass: your ticket to the experience of a lifetime
International
Why Denmark won't try to follow the UK out of the EU
Copenhagen police tear down Christiania cannabis market
National
Copenhagen police tear down Christiania cannabis market
Danish PM: Orlando shooting act of 'hatred'
International
Danish PM: Orlando shooting act of 'hatred'
Society
Sex campaigns lead to Danish baby boom
National
Don't worry Denmark, the world still loves you
Culture
Danish diversity ad a massive social media hit – have you seen it?
2,206
jobs available