Left Menu
Development News Edition

UPDATE 1-Richest countries skimp on parental leave - U.N.

Reuters | New York | Updated: 14-06-2019 01:15 IST | Created: 14-06-2019 01:14 IST
UPDATE 1-Richest countries skimp on parental leave - U.N.

Some of the wealthiest nations in the world provide little or no government-supported maternity or paternity leave for new parents, a United Nations report said on Thursday. Using 2016 data from the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), Eurostat and research articles, the study ranked 41 high and middle income countries across the OECD and European Union on family-friendly practices.

"All of these countries are rich compared to the rest of the world, so all of them can afford to invest in children and family-friendly policies," said Yekaterina Chzhen, lead author of the report by the United Nations children's fund UNICEF. "Some of them could perhaps be more effective and efficient in spending money in this area," she told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.

Paid leave for mothers allows them to focus on their child's development while staying connected to their jobs, while paternity leave helps fathers bond with their children and balance the domestic weight placed on mothers, the report said. Of the 41 countries surveyed, about half offered six months or more paid leave for mothers, the minimum length UNICEF advocated for in the report.

Estonia offered mothers 85 weeks of paid leave, Hungary offered 72 weeks, and Bulgaria offered 65 weeks, ranking as the top three countries for maternity leave. But Australia and New Zealand offered only eight weeks and the United States offered no time, ranking it the worst for maternity leave.

When the data was collected, Estonia's gross domestic product, or the total value of its goods and services produced that year, was just below $24 billion, 750 times less than the United States. "(There is) no relationship between country wealth and family friendliness of the policies in this particular group of UN-OECD countries," said Chzhen.

"They depend a lot on, not just the political priorities of a particular day or a particular government administration, but they really sometimes build on how society views children and women." Chzhen said she was surprised at the generous paternity leave for fathers in Japan and South Korea, which offer about 30 weeks and 17 weeks, while nine countries including the United States, Ireland and Switzerland offer none.

Israel did not have paid parental leave in 2016, when the data was collected by OECD, UNICEF said. It has made paid leave available to fathers since then. However, the report found that only one in 20 fathers in Japan actually took the paid leave in 2017.

Brian Heilman, a researcher at Promundo, a U.S.-based organisation trying to engage men and boys more in promoting gender equality, said there needed to be a shift in norms that may take years before better paternal leave policies take hold. "You see a persistent gendered labour division under the guise of biological differences," said Heilman, noting that offering women more leave than men can add to their workload and perpetuate traditional domestic norms.

"When we add up unpaid work responsibilities on top of paid work, there's no country in the world where men are doing as much as women." Just over 60% of the countries surveyed offered paternity leave, though some countries increased this benefit after the data for the report by UNICEF's Office of research was collected, including Spain, Ireland and Canada.

The report found that leave for fathers was often shorter but paid more than maternity leave. It did not address how government funded leave impacts same-sex couples, though Chzhen said she believes gay fathers face the greatest resistance securing government assistance, as they might have to prove their needs are that of a birth mother.

The 2018 Global Gender Gap Report, released by the World Economic Forum, estimates it will take 202 years for economic equality between men and women to be achieved.


TRENDING

OPINION / BLOG / INTERVIEW

Why COVID-19 is unstoppable in USA despite it being ranked at the top of GHS Index?

Several worst-hit countries such as Italy, France, Spain, the UK, Canada, and Russia have peaked COVID-19 cases in April. Almost all of them have gradually flattened the curve. However, the USA is setting new daily records of infections tha...

COVID-19 seems cooking biggest ever global scam

The increasing number of corruption cases on COVID-19 funds from throughout the world and involvement of high profile persons indicate that the countries cant ignore corruption in their pandemic response programs. This has generated the nee...

Health Management Information Systems lack holistic, integrated, and pandemic resilient character

Being a part of the United Nations system, the World Health Organization WHO deserves its share of rebuke for its alleged failure issue COVID-19 health emergency alerts on appropriate time. However, the pandemic has also exposed loopholes i...

Pride in the time of coronavirus: a welcome move online?

This year is different in many ways not least as celebrations are also taking place against the dramatic backdrop of a global health crisis and a resurgence in grassroots activism following the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis. ...

Videos

Latest News

One person arrested for uploading abusive video against stand-up comedian

Cyber cell of Mumbai police on Monday arrested one person from Nalasopara for uploading on his social media a video in which he uses abusive language against stand-up comedian Agrima Joshua. Cyber Crime Police Station has registered a case ...

10-year-old killed, 2 teens hurt in New Orleans gunfire

A 10-year-old child was killed and two teenagers were wounded by gunfire on Monday afternoon in New Orleans, police said. Police Chief Shaun Ferguson said police, responding to shots being fired around 5 pm, found the three victims.A girl d...

China coronavirus cases ease on July 13, no new ones in Beijing

China reported on Tuesday five new coronavirus cases in the mainland for July 13, compared with eight cases a day earlier, the health authority said.All of the new infections were imported cases, the National Health Commission said in a sta...

New Zealand opposition leader quits 2 months from election

The leader of New Zealands opposition National Party quit on Tuesday morning, just over two months from a general election and 53 days after he took charge of the right-of-centre party that is seeing its support stagnate. The statement Todd...

Give Feedback