(P1) According to recent studies, Scandinavian countries are doing more for women than any other country on Earth. In general, being a woman in northern Europe is better than elsewhere around the world. In global rankings, Iceland leads the world in terms of gender equality. Sweden, Norway, and Denmark come in next.
(P2) The United States has improved its ranking, moving up from 31st place to the 19th spot, largely because President Obama has offered women more jobs in government offices. At the bottom of the list are Yemen and Pakistan, where it is least desirable to be a woman.
(P3) In Scandinavia, equality starts at an early age. Boys and girls have the same educational opportunities. There are even more women enrolled in universities than men.
(P4) In the workforce, men and women are equally respected and they get the same pay. Especially in Sweden, the government makes it easier for women to return to work after having a baby. A complex welfare system allows them to balance work and family life. All these measures have led to rising birth rates in Scandinavian countries.
(P5) Scandinavian countries have a long history in gender equality. They were the first to give women the right to vote. This has led to more women taking an active role in politics. Today Sweden, for example, has the highest ratio of females in parliament – 44%.
VOCABULARY: rankings, gender equality, spot, desirable, enrolled, workforce, complex, welfare system, ratio, parliament
If you found the passage difficult to read or had problems understanding specific words or idiomatic expressions, please discuss them with your tutor. The following discussion questions should be answered in your own words and with your own arguments.
- Briefly, summarize the content of the article in your own words.
- Why do you think the Scandinavian countries do the most for their women?
- Would you like to live in a Scandinavian country? Why or why not?
- Does your government have maternity leave programs? If yes, describe it.
- Does your country have a welfare system? If yes, describe it.
EXPRESSIONS or PHRASES: What do the following expressions or phrases mean?
- Even more (P3)
- Family life (P4)
- Right to vote (P5)