Paternity leaves are a provision through which fathers of children or partners are granted leaves from their respective workplaces so that they can take care of their newborn or newly adopted child.
Ever noticed the terms used for parents who work? Mothers who work are called working moms. However, fathers who work are seldom called working dads; they are just called dads. This is nothing but the sheer manifestations of gender roles in our society.
Paternity leaves surely come from a place of sentiment, firstly. But the personal is always political on some level.
The evolution of paternity leave policies has only proven that the role of a nurturer and caregiver is not just limited to women. Fathers need time to adapt to the birth of their children as well. Paternity leaves have gone on to prove the extreme importance of a father’s role in the early years of the development of the child.
How It Was
Earlier in the early and Middle 20th century, there were traditional gender roles. Mothers and women were to be caregivers to the rest of the community. The man was considered to be the primary breadwinner. This is why it was important that a mother enjoyed maternity leave to take care of their newborn child. Paternity leaves were not in consideration.
Winds Of Change
The first step towards the introduction of leave policies for parents, primarily maternity leaves, was introduced in the latter half of the 20th century. Maternity leave was introduced so that new mothers could bond with their newborns. This was considered to be a step towards the protection of the rights of working mothers. This was how Maternity leaves came into being as a supportive step from the government toward all working mothers.
First Instances Of Paternity Leave
In the 1970s and ’80s, paternity leave started to become an issue. It was first brought into legal recognition when fathers often needed leaves to support situations at home with a newborn. Others often needed to take time off work and help mothers out raising the kids.
However, it was not introduced in the form that exists currently. A more temporary approach was taken rather than leaving with a longer duration.
A Step Toward Gender Equality
The emerging need for gender equality in professional spheres led to the development of longer paternity leave. More family-inclusive leave policies, independent of the gender of the employee, were brought into legal recognition slowly. More scientific research was conducted into the significance of a father’s involvement in a child’s development.
These are a few ways in which paternity leaves promote gender equality.
- Paternity leave challenges the stereotypical role of the male gender of being breadwinners and not caregivers.
- Paternal leaves encouraged fathers to take responsibility for their kids.
- They help in reducing the gender gap existing between men and women.
- It allowed working mothers to concentrate on their professional life and not be hampered by giving birth to a child.
The First Ones
Many countries started introducing laws that guaranteed paternity leave as an individual’s right. Nordic countries such as Sweden and Norway were some of the earliest countries to bring about paternity leave policies. These legislative approaches helped fathers nationwide provide significant support to their families in times of need.
Society And Its Ways
With the introduction of paternity leave laws, the overall attitude of society towards a father’s role started changing. Following Sweden and Norway, other first-world countries slowly started adapting paternity leave policies. Second-world countries and developing nations followed them.
In Comes The United Nations
Very soon, employers started to take the initiative according to the legal requirements of the land. They started offering paternity leave to attract part of the working population that found it difficult to work in companies without paternity leaves.
The International Labor Organization soon established the need for family-oriented policies. This included the mandatory introduction of maternity leave and now paternity leave as well. The companies’ labor and social policies started being shaped according to these guidelines.
Wrapping Up With The Current Scenario
Today, under the Family And Medical Leave Act as well as state laws, mandatory but unpaid paternity leave is guaranteed for all employees in the United States. Under this Act, a company with more than 50 employees and all public agencies of the United States is to allow provisions for paternity leaves. Twelve weeks of unpaid leaves have been guaranteed to employees for the birth or adoption of children. The unpaid part of the legislation has called in quite a bit of criticism from employees.
This only means that the struggle for paid paternity leaves continues, and so that does the struggle for gender equality.
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