Denmark’s way towards gender equality with parental leave 

By Helen Chen and Emma Monrós Rosell

Since the new parental leave law started in Denmark, the amount of days that mothers spend in maternity leave has reduced to give more space to paternity leave. 

The new law has reduced the days of the mother’s leave, up to the baby’s eight months approximately, whereas before it was until the baby’s tenth month. The change has been made in order to be able to increase the father or co-parent’s leave.  

The shift in the tendency can be seen in new data published by Statistics Denmark about the gender equality indicator on days of parental benefits. The number of days that mothers in average in all of Denmark have had of parental benefits has decreased from 282.3 in 2016 to 263 in 2022. Whereas the average of father’s days has increased from 30.9 on 2016 to 48.9 in 2022. 

Gender equality indicator on days of parental benefits by gender. (Source: Statistics Denmark) 

Irene and Buster live in Copenhagen and had their third child in August 2023. They have seen some changes compared to when their first two children were born, more than five years ago.  

Irene had to go back to work earlier than before, which meant that she had to stop breastfeeding her baby at an earlier stage than with her previous kids. Despite the inconvenience, she sees that she has gained some freedom with this change and being able to incorporate back to her working life earlier. Now Buster is at home enjoying his paternal benefits and taking care of the kids.  

He believes that the new law has benefited men, and co-parents in general, to be able to have a better relationship with the kid. Buster also sees the new regulation as a “change in society’s mindset, because before it was believed that men could not take care of kids”. 

This article would be published in Parents magazine ( under their “Starting a Family” section