Thursday, August 6, 2009

Advocating for Paid Maternity Leave

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,, 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.


Katie said...

Thank you for posting this- I signed, and shared the petition on facebook. I think I read once that in France, you get an entire year of paid leave. I would kill for a few weeks!

BB said...

Thanks for sharing it... I posted a link to your blog on my blog.

Hoping for our own Peanut said...

thats for the info!!

Meant to be a mom said...

I am 100 percent with you. I think its ridiculous that we can't get some kind of paid leave. Those of us who have to go back to work or loose our jobs that we have no choice but to keep for whatever financial reason we have may hardly get any time with our new babies. And what if the baby has to stay in the hospital or the nicu and we get no time with them. Its sad. My boss was very kind enough to atleast give me 6 weeks paid leave and I feel like thats nothing although I'm very grateful for it, its just not enough time. So thanks for posting this one. Its definitely needed here in the U.S. Also, Although its an equal work field for men and women I think most men who have wives and kids would understand and support the paid leave for there wives to be able to spend more time at home with a new baby.