Wow, I think all the political ads have been soaking into my brain. I woke up wondering what are some of the issues am I worried about? Which senator should I tweet this morning? What are some of the back to basics things that could make this country a better place for our children and their future? Then it hit me.
50% of the American workforce are women, yet the Family Medical Leave Act does not require that these employers provide paid maternity leave for them. How can this be right? According to a 2012 article in the popular “Vogue” magazine, “how can it be that the United States comes close to dead last on a critical social issue that affects almost half of its population? The only other countries in the world that share this law are Suriname and Papau New Guinea.” (Vogue 2012) This showed me we have some forward thinkers out there who have been talking about this for 2 years! I admit, it has been hard to choose my favorite political ad this year, but I certainly have not seen one political advertisement, using this topic as a platform for their campaign. It would probably take my vote. The Vogue article prompted me to continue and look up some more reputable sources, to see what I could find.
The FMLA does guarantee you can take 12 weeks off without pay, and still have a “like” job when you return, but the instant you feel that first contraction, you just may possibly be beginning to forfeit your salary. But, hey look on the “bright side”…at least you won’t be fired? To add to the stringency of the law, FMLA offers the benefit of unpaid leave only to women who have worked at least 1,250 hours during the previous year for a company that employs at least 50 people so this leaves out a good portion of working women. Watch a video to see how the U.S. compares to the rest of the world.
New York Senator Kirsten Gillibrand put it in stark terms at a recent political event: “Pakistan and Afghanistan that don’t even educate their girls have more paid leave. That is outrageous.” (Pakistan offers twelve weeks, according to the International Labour Organization; Afghanistan thirteen.) A majority of European countries, including France, Austria, and Spain, offer at least fourteen paid weeks. Not surprisingly, Scandinavian nations are by far the most generous, with Norway giving new mothers 26 to 51 paid weeks off, according to World Policy Forum data, and Denmark an impressive 52 weeks or more.
Don’t get me wrong-I love living in the United States of America! But, there’s always room for improvement, when it comes to making a positive a difference in our children’s lives. Hear what United States, President Obama has to say here in his weekly address.
Heather Knott, RN-IBCLC
“A wise and frugal government, which shall restrain men from injuring one another, shall leave them otherwise free to regulate their own pursuits of industry and improvement, and shall not take from the mouth of labor the bread it has earned.” Thomas Jefferson