‘Swedish Dads’ photo exhibition captures the benefits of paternity leave

Kyodo

A traveling Swedish photo exhibition promoting gender equality is currently touring Japan, featuring Swedish fathers taking long periods of parental leave and caring for their children at home.

“Swedish Dads” is a collection of photos taken by Johan Bavman, who hopes to introduce his home country’s unique parental leave system and inspire fathers around the world to consider the positive impact it has on family life.

The exhibition, sponsored by the Swedish Embassy, showcases photos of 25 fathers with their children. Bavman has taken his pictures to countries such as Vietnam, China and Australia, according to the embassy.

Mothers and fathers in Sweden can share parental leave, but only 14 percent of parents do so equally. The fathers portrayed in the collection are among a small percentage of people who took leave for more than six months.

The photos are displayed with comments from the fathers about how they felt during their leave. One of them said the experience made him feel confident as a parent and has helped him develop a stronger bond with his child.

The Swedish parental leave system allows parents to stay at home with their child for a total of 480 days while receiving a state allowance. More than 90 percent of fathers take parental leave compared with less than 4 percent in Japan.

“With this project, I want to find out why these men have chosen to stay at home so much longer than the majority of Swedish dads. What has it done for them, how have their relationships with their partner and their child changed, and what expectations did they have before taking parental leave?” Bavman says on his website.

“Swedish Dads” heads to Saitama Toho Junior College on Oct. 7 and 8. It then travels across the country. For more information on dates, visit bit.ly/2xhHQ6v (in Japanese) or www.johanbavman.se.