Ideas play a central role in shaping social and public policy, and this is certainly the case when it comes to family policy in general and parenting leaves in particular. The past half-century or so, various ideas have influenced, e.g., how parenting leave systems ought to be shaped. One such idea is that of gender equality advocating equality between parents in terms of how they use leave rights. However, what this idea actually means in practice and how to implement it in policy terms varies between different contexts and over time. The aim of this chapter is to discuss the role of ideas in parenting leave policies and, in particular, to highlight how the idea of gender equality can be understood. We seek to do this on a more general level, but also by exemplifying how different interpretations of such an idea have been politicised in Finnish parenting leave policy and discourses.
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