Posts Tagged ‘parental leave’

“Business” is no excuse for prejudice

17/05/2011, 03:54:01 PM

by Ray Filar

Quite strangely for a practice upon which the existence of the human race depends, having babies is still a career disadvantage to women in a way that it is not to men. In stone age fashion, parental leave legislation continues to envisage women as primary child-carers and men as primary breadwinners. Those heterosexual parents who would like to create a work/life balance mash-up of the two stereotypical roles don’t get a look in.

Statutory maternity leave currently stands at fifty-two weeks, maximum. Statutory paternity leave, by contrast, amounts to two weeks at the beginning, and from this April, at most twenty-six weeks in the second half of the baby’s first year. These laws continue to dictate that the stay-at-home-with-the-baby be mostly done by the parent with a vulva.

This is clearly unfair to all genders. Women may always be the birth-givers, but frankly, once the actual birth and two-week recovery period is over, a new task begins. This task is called child care, and there is no reason for it not to be shared between parents in a way that suits them. Commitment to legislative gender equality leads me to believe that it should be shared relatively equally, but at the very least, parents should be able to decide, not governments or businesses.

I grew up in a family in which my mum worked longer hours than my dad, and at times earned more. My dad was able to combine his career with picking up my siblings from school and cooking dinner. He’s a pretty good cook, actually. I don’t know how he does it, but having a male body doesn’t seem to render him incapable of child-care. Indeed, based on my experience of being cared for by a father as well as a mother, I’d go so far as to contend that wiping poo out of a baby’s arse is much the same task whatever your gender.


Facebook Twitter Digg Delicious StumbleUpon