Helsinki: In a bid to promote gender equality, parents in Finland will be given the same amount of parental leave, regardless of their gender or whether they are a child’s biological parents, the government announced. Paid paternity leave will be extended to nearly seven months, in line with maternity leave and around half that time off can be given to the other parent.

In addition, pregnant women are also entitled to a month of pregnancy leave before the expected date of birth.

According to the ministry, the total amount of families’ daily allowance days would increase from the current 11.5 months to more than 14 months, with both parents receiving an equal quota of 164 days. Parents would be able to transfer 69 days from their own quota to the other parent.

The changes, which are likely to come into effect as early as 2021, are a bid to promote gender equality and inclusivity for same-sex couples and to encourage fathers to take as much time off work as mothers.

Social Affairs Minister Aino-Kaisa Pekonen said “the reform will be a major change in attitudes, as it will improve equality between parents and make the lives of diverse families easier. Sharing parent responsibilities in everyday life will become easier, and the relationship between both parents and the child will be strengthened from the early childhood.”

The initiative is also seen as a way to boost birth rates in the country, where the population is declining.

Meanwhile, the move is one of the latest reforms under Finland’s new government, led by 34-year-old Sanna Marin, a progressive prime minister, heading a coalition government made up of all female leaders.

Marin had also come out in support of a four-day work week with six-hour days, though the government has no plans to implement it yet.