Affordable childcare is essential to achieving gender balance in the workplace

I’m in the middle of reading Let IT Go, a fascinating biography by Dame Stephanie Shirley.

It’s about how she built up her computer programming company using freelance women, working from home.

I’m surprised to see how little has changed since she started in 1962.

Today, too often, employees can’t return to work after having children because childcare is too expensive to make it worthwhile.

When I came to the United Kingdom 30 years ago, Affordable childcare

I was astonished about attitudes here towards women with careers and children.

It seemed that when you had children you became a housebound housewife.

In Sweden, my home country, you were expected to return to work.

I recently came across horrifying statistics claiming that the cost of raising children in the UK has risen by 58 per cent since 2003.

A staggering increase in 12 years! Childcare costs have hit a record high with some parents spending £14,000 a year keeping one child at a nursery!

A survey of 1,500 nurseries around the country highlights the financial strain on mothers holding down jobs while grappling with

Europe’s highest childcare costs. Stephen Burke, former chief executive of the Daycare Trust which campaigns for affordable childcare, said,

“The report shows that for most parents childcare is simply beyond their reach.”

There is no legislation here in the UK, nor does it seem to be culturally acceptable for

parents to share paternity and maternity leave equally, as is the case in Sweden today.

Sweden has the most generous childcare benefits in the world and it should therefore not be

surprising that Sweden also has the greatest number of women in senior management positions in business and in government.

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