I don't want to use this blog as a political platform but I just read an article and this one hits really close to home with what we here in IF blog-land are all working towards. In a recent article by News Week, the US is now the only developed nation that does not provide paid maternity leave. The Case for Paid Family Leave by Lew Daly argues for "why the United States should follow Australia's lead."
"Only two countries in the advanced world provide no guarantee for paid leave from work to care for a newborn child. Last spring one of the two, Australia, gave up that dubious distinction by establishing paid family leave starting in 2011. I wasn't surprised when this didn't make the news here in the United States—we're now the only wealthy country without such a policy..."
What is most shocking is where the US ranks among other countries when comparing support for working families.
"While the United States has been a leader on equal opportunity in the work place, a 2007 McGill University study found that we are far behind in terms of supporting parents and balancing work and family. In fact, says author Jody Heymann, America ranks "among the worst." In the study of 173 countries, we stood with Liberia, Swaziland, and Papua New Guinea as the only countries providing no paid maternity leave. Of the 169 countries that guarantee paid maternity leave, 98 of them provide 14 or more weeks. Among wealthy countries—except ours—parents are entitled to as much as 47 weeks of paid family leave."
14 weeks of paid maternity leave?!?!?! Wow, I wish we could even have half of that here. Ladies we need to speak up for ourselves here. Did you know the debate that went on about the Pregnancy Discrimination Act? It's shocking. Especially to us women who have struggled to have a family. I was so saddened to learn about how corporate America views pregnancy.
"An early example of this clash between business thinking and family needs is also the most revealing. The Pregnancy Discrimination Act, passed in 1978, made it illegal for an employer to fire or penalize a female employee simply because she is pregnant. The business groups that tried to defeat the bill argued that firing a pregnant woman is not discrimination because pregnancy is a "voluntary condition." It's her fault if she decides to have children! That is how business (certainly big business) views the family, as a worker's "choice," a self-inflicted wound. Never mind that having children perpetuates the human race and creates the next generation of workers and citizens for our country. If doing all of that for society means that the company gets less, the company has every right to rid itself of such burdens—at least that's what big business believes."
But there is a breastfeeding support website, MomsRising.org, that is passing around a petition to get signatures to get a bill going for national paid maternity leave. Now their platform is to get paid maternity leave so that mom's can work on successful breastfeeding, which is a great cause. As a lactation consultant I completely support this but I think all moms deserve paid maternity leave no matter how they choose to feel their babies. The petition has a goal of 50,000 signatures and right now they are at only 1,500. You don't have to register to their site but they do ask for an email address. Click here to sign the petition.