Gender Discourse,  social policy,  Work and labor

Pregnancy Leave: Can We Make a Case for This?

“Journey,” as a word somewhat sounds cliche. It could mean anything considering the situation. In this case, “journey” means a part that leads to motherhood and parenting. This journey is the pregnancy journey.

Pregnancy comes with various changes and experiences. Varying from swollen legs, chubby look, bleeding, heartburn, indigestion, dizziness, loss of appetite, nausea, vomiting, and many other discomforts. While some women have it easy, others do not. These discomforts and uncertainties could make one argue for the implementation of a pregnancy leave policy. Should we have a pregnancy leave? When should it be? How long should it be? But then, there is the maternity leave, how reasonable is this policy?

Almost every nation of the world provides paid maternity leave to new mothers. However, the United States, Papua New Guinea, Suriname, and few south pacific nations do not offer paid maternity leave (NPR 2016). Moreover, amidst the fifty (50) states in the United States, four (4) states provide paid maternity leave: these include California, Georgia, New Jersey, and Rhodes Island (The Guardian 2020). As such, the lack of a paid maternity leave could create a child care and retention challenge for new parents (especially mothers). On the contrary, European nations such as Finland, Norway, Denmark, Sweden, Germany, among others, and Canada provide women with more than twelve (12_ weeks of paid maternity leave, and fathers enjoy close to two (2) weeks of paid paternity leave and more (OECD 2019, Pew Research, 2019; The Guardian 2020; Ghazala 2010). Also, in African nations, mothers have access to twelve (12) weeks of paid maternity leave. But paternity leave is yet to become a practice. Even though there are no paternity leave policies in African countries, many other African nations have other leave policies that suffice for paternity leave such as family leave or emergency leave (ILO 2014, Ogundoro 2019). In Asian nations, mothers have access to fourteen (14) weeks of paid maternity leave and fathers have access to one (1) or two (2) weeks of paternity leave (ILO 2014).

Besides the maternity and paternity leave policies, in my opinion, national governments should make available pregnancy leave. This is because some women have life-threatening experiences and the motivation to work for women often change. As many women at times, end up inactive and incapacitated at work and they struggle with the fear of losing their jobs. Also, many women experience bias in their workplaces and this leads to the pushing out or opting-out of women from their careers (Paustian-Underdahl, Eaton, Mandeville, and Little, 2019). In more explicit terms, women’s economic and health security becomes greatly impacted. As a result of these challenges, it is reasonable to encourage that pregnancy policy is included in National policies and laws as a social policy. With this policy, organizations commit to encouraging employee participation, employee retention, healthy living for employees, diversity and equality in promotion, and organizational growth.

Beyond these benefits, the implication of this type of policy on global change and advancement would be unparalleled.

Photo from

National Institute for Public Health and the Environment, Ministry of Health, Welfare and Sport

Sources

Bryant, M. (2020). “Maternity leave: US policy is worst on list of the world’s richest countries,” The Guardian. https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2020/jan/27/maternity-leave-us-policy-worst-worlds-richest countries#:~:text=United%20States%20%E2%80%93%200%20weeks%20FRE,60%25%20of%20workers%20are%20eligible

Deahl, J. (2016). “Countries Around The World Beat The U.S. On Paid Parental Leave.” NPR. https://www.npr.org/2016/10/06/495839588/countries-around-the-world-beat-the-u-s-on-paid-parental-leave  

Ghazala, N. (2010). “Usage of Parental Leave in Norway,” International Journal of Sociology and Social Policy, 30 no. 5/6, 313-325. https://doi.org/10.1108/01443331011054262

International Labour Office (ILO), (2014) Maternity and Paternity at Work Law and Practice Across the World (Geneva),  56-57. http://www.ilo.org/wcmsp5/groups/public/—dgreports/—dcomm/—publ/documents/publication/wcms_242615.pdf

Livingston, G., and Thomas, D. (2019). “Among 41 countries, only U.S. lacks paid parental leave,” Pew Research. https://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2019/12/16/u-s-lacks-mandated-paid-parental-leave/

OECD, (2019). “Parental leave systems.” https://www.oecd.org/els/soc/PF2_1_Parental_leave_systems.pdf

Ogundoro, O. (2019). “In Search of Work-Life Balance: Organizational and Economic Challenges Confronting Women in Banking and Management Consulting Firms in Southwest Nigeria.” Electronic Theses and Dissertations. Paper 3674. https://dc.etsu.edu/etd/3674

Paustian-Underdahl, S., Eaton, A., Mandeville, A., and Little, L. (2019). Pushed Out or Opting Out? Integrating Perspectives on Gender Differences in Withdrawal Attitudes During Pregnancy. Journal of Applied Psychology104(8), 985–1002. https://doi.org/10.1037/apl0000394

 

 

 

 

 

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