A reply to a comment to this post, The Joys of Being a Woman in Norway, explaining how equality in the workplace (as a result of maternity and paternity leave sponsored by the welfare system) is good for equality overall.
I think the things brought up in this reply is important to remember. Often people use the argument that ‘equality costs too much money’ and that only an oil nation such as Norway could afford it. But the thing is, even before the oil happened in the 60’s/70’s, Norway had already established a system based on equality through being social democratic. Oil money could easily have been kept within private companies, or parts of the sea sold to other countries for rapid income, but that’s not the country’s mentality. Norway (and other Scandinavian countries) believes the land belongs to its people. There’s a widespread idea rooted in our laws that you can’t deny people access to your countryside backyard and land, even if you own it.
What this means is, of course, limited ‘freedom’ and ‘rights’ for the individual person, often leading to Norway being called ‘a nanny state’ and ‘the last Soviet republic’. You’re not free to do exactly what you want here. You can’t build a garage on your own property without permission, and you need to file forms to get it. You do pay shitloads of taxes. You do pay a licence to have a TV. You do have limitations on how much alcohol and tobacco you can take into the country without paying triple their price in fees. But I’d say what you get in return makes up for it.
Even without the oil, we would be able to afford parental leaves because of a general idea that the land and its resources belongs to the people, added with the ideas of social democracy: If you have more than you need (and yes, you don’t get to decide ‘how much you need’ is yourself) you give it away to those who don’t.