July 19, 2019

We Need Gender Equality in the Nursery

“When Americans imagine creating conditions for female success in the workplace, paid maternity leave is often high on the priority list.

This thinking, however, is outdated and wrong. Gender-equal paid leave not only gives all parents the opportunity to care for and bond with their children — it helps ensure that women reach their full potential and creates the conditions for a more equitable, prosperous world.

In the #MeToo era, many ask why American sexual arrangements are so strained. One key reason is an antiquated division between men and women that begins at birth. From the cradle, men are conditioned to associate nurturing and care with female figures — and to devalue the unpaid work that women shoulder disproportionately. This normalizes and sustains gender inequality in a way that hurts everyone: mothers, fathers, children — and society as a whole.

The United States is one of only a very small handful of countries in the United Nations that lacks a national paid parental leave law — putting it in the company of countries like New Guinea, Lesotho and Suriname. According to PL+US: Paid Leave for the United States, a non-profit advocating for paid family leave, a quarter of new moms in the U.S. return to work 10 days after childbirth. For men, that figure is 70 percent — a situation not only unhealthy for child development, but reinforcing of old-fashioned gender roles.”

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