Stet by Ria Bacon

Tuesday, May 17, 2005

I feel like I win when I lose

If you want to get ahead, grrrls, get thee to Sweden.

Surprised? You shouldn't be. The World Economic Forum's Report on Women's Empowerment, published today, makes for predictable reading overall: Nordic countries in the top five places, Islamic countries at the bottom. There are some surprises in the details, however, such as the Netherlands at #42 (out of 58) position for educational attainment; the United States at #46 for economic opportunity; and Italy's overall #45 position - behind Zimbabwe and well behind Bangladesh. Mamma mia!

These web graphics of the top and bottom positions are good illustrations of the place of women in the respective countries.
WEF women's empowerment - Sweden
WEF women's empowerment - Egypt

So perhaps it's time to brush up your Swedish ...
Jo, jo, vid Waterloo Napoleon fick ge sej
men, Men, sitt öde kan man
möta p s mnga skilda sätt
själv känner jag, sen jag mött dej
historien upprepar sej.
Then again ...

They're a funny old bunch, the Swedes - no BS or mind games, which carries over to raising their kids. I recently told a Swedish friend, Greta, about my daughter's losing her first tooth and the 100 moneys (eurocents) left by the fairy. Greta had always told her daughters that there was no Santa Claus, no tooth fairy, that it was all mum and dad so don't have any illusions, kids. (I confess I felt a lump in my throat.) This had been fine with her first daughter, but the second, going to international school, insisted that the tooth fairy come for her first tooth. When the moment came, her parents forgot to do the deed and were woken the next morning with a wailing child: "the fairy forgot to take my tooth! And I didn't get any money!"

While the father distracted her, the mother quickly made the switch and said, "why don't you look again?" Hmmm. The girl was temporarily mollified but the fairy business was beginning to look a little unreliable. She frowned and said, "I want my tooth back. You kept Freya's (her sister) first tooth and I want mine. I want the fairy to bring it back!"

So while the girl was at school, the father was supposed to get her tooth from the memory box where they had kept both girls' first teeth. Of course, he took one of the older sister's teeth by mistake, a huge molar with a hole in it. When the younger one came home and found it under her pillow, she screamed, "The fairy's brought the wrong tooth back! Where's MY tooth?!"

Since then, the tooth fairy has been dismissed from the household because of gross incompetence and has never been mentioned again.