Usually “burning money” is a figure of speech. But Sweden’s feminist party literally set fire to $13,000 (or 10,000 Swedish kronar) to symbolize the amount of money women aren’t getting every minute compared to men. An advertising agency donated the $13K, which members of the Feminist Initiative heaped on a BBQ. According to Sweden’s statistics agency, in 2008 the average salary for women was about 19 percent less than for men. That’s an especially lame statistic considering Sweden takes pains to achieve gender equality. The New York Times recently wrote about how Sweden has a yearlong paid parental leave; it can be used by mothers or fathers, but there are extra financial incentives for the father to stay home. Whichever parent goes on leave can earn almost a full year’s salary while tending to the baby, so he or she doesn’t fall behind. A study performed in March found that for every month that a Swedish father takes leave, the mother’s future earnings increase by seven percent. And still, some women are paid lower salaries than men!
We’ve got the same problem over here in the United States, where our parental leave policies are even less progressive. According to Newsweek, a woman earns 77 cents for every dollar earned by a man. African-American and Latina women earn even less — 70 cents and 58 cents, respectively.