Here are two more reasons that I bless the day I moved to Daddyland.
Research shows that paid parental leave can reduce infant mortality, improve immunization rates and health outcomes for mothers and babies, increase fathers’ participation in child care, improve breastfeeding initiation and duration, strengthen women’s connection to the workplace, avoid family poverty spells, and reduce businesses’ recruitment and training costs.
Paid parental leave is considered a human right under several international treaties (not ratified by the US), and 177 countries now have laws guaranteeing paid parental leave. Only a few, including the United States, Papua New Guinea, Swaziland, and Australia, do not have national laws on paid parental leave. Australia will offer 18 paid weeks starting in 2011.
Swaziland and Papua New Guineau. Sigh.
Why Americans do not demand better family benefits, I do not know. I read the parenting/family blogs at the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal, and the comments are filled with people who have internalized a business-first ethic that is the dream of any uncaring corporation. It seems like the average American actually thinks paid parental leave is not worth the fight.
To emphasize this point, the President held a Forum on Workplace Flexibility yesterday (the press coverage of it was pathetic). Here is RebelDad’s take on it. But I like better what he wrote before it happened:
In short, I don’t expect high-quality, state-run childcare to suddenly emerge. I don’t expect European-style paid parental leave policies to get floated. I don’t even expect Obama to make good on his campaign promises to expand FMLA. All I want is a serious effort to get paid sick leave instituted. That’s all. It would be one small — one tiny — step for flexibility. And it’s not going to happen. Not in this Washington, not in this economy.
You can host all of the flexibility summits you want, but words only get you so far.
Paid sick leave as a huge unattainable goal. Triple sigh.