Danish Language Blog

Are Danes Equal? Posted by on Mar 9, 2017 in Uncategorized

I går var det Kvindernes Internationale Kampdag (”the Women’s International Day of Struggle”), and Danish kvinder (women) and mænd (men) gathered in the streets to fejre (celebrate) and demonstrere for ligestilling (demonstrate for equality).

Danmark is among the world’s most egalitarian countries – still, it lags behind the other nordiske lande (Nordic countries) in international rankings. In theory, it shouldn’t matter whether a Danish child dreaming about becoming a soldat (soldier) or a sygeplejerske (nurse) is en pige (a girl) or en dreng (a boy). In reality, there still are a lot of prejudices floating around – as the word sygeplejerske shows: It ends in a classical female suffix (-ske), even if men can work as nurses, too.

Vikingetiden (the Viking Age) was known for its many strong women who ruled the communities while their husbands were raiding abroad. Danish women also took part in expeditions and were just as crucial as men in making Viking colonies in England and other places. In 1915, Denmark finally gave women the right to vote – stemmeret – two years after Norway, but earlier than many other lande (countries).

In today’s Denmark, it’s relatively possible to combine a karriere and a familie. There’s universal barselsorlov (maternity leave), so women don’t risk losing their job when having a child. Still, there still isn’t total ligeløn (equal wages) yet – sometimes employers tend to pay men more for doing the same tasks as their female kollegaer (colleagues). And when Denmark had its first female PM – Helle Thorning-Schmidt – everybody was talking about how she dressed; the current male PM, Lars Løkke, doesn’t get so many comments about his udseende (look).

Nowadays, Danish feminster often talk about more than women’s issues: For example, it’s often a problem [proBLEHM] that too few men work in børnehaver (kindergartens) and skoler (schools). That causes many drenge (boys) to grow up without good male role models.

Have you experienced discrimination in Denmark because of your gender – or your sexuality or your looks or your religion? Please drop a comment below.

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About the Author: Bjørn A. Bojesen

I was born in Denmark, but spent large parts of my childhood and study years in Norway. I later returned to Denmark, where I finished my MA in Scandinavian Studies. Having relatives in Sweden as well, I feel very Scandinavian! I enjoy reading and travelling, and sharing stories with you! You’re always welcome to share your thoughts with me and the other readers.