The Africa Fatherhood Initiative supports the Platform for Parental Leave and the global MenCare campaign on working parents rights. They’ve developed an important policy framework on parental leave. Here are some highlights.
It is our conviction that true equality between genders cannot be achieved until men and boys share half of the childcare and domestic tasks. Recently, policies that grant equal leave to both parents, which are paid and not transferable, have been gaining international prominence, and with valid justification.
These policies have been found to be some of the most effective in motivating men to partake in caregiving, which consequently promotes equality both within the home, work environment, and society in general, especially when incorporated into broader initiatives designed to reduce and redistribute care work.
In the present day, the majority of nations provide maternity leave for mothers; however, much fewer countries, amounting to 92, give leave for fathers, and even in those countries the duration of the leave is often less than three weeks. It is essential that all parents should be able to have the opportunity to look after their children and families.
Enacting national policies that include parental leave for fathers, in addition to leave for mothers, has the potential to drastically impact gender inequalities.
Such policies could lead to greater recognition and redistribution of care work, as well as improved pay and advancement for women and increased involvement of men at home. Furthermore, it can improve workers’ morale and productivity, lower turnover, and demonstrate that both parents are essential in the upbringing of their children.
1. Equal Treatment: Both genders should receive the same amount of leave, as anything else would be a reinforcement of gender inequity, thus causing women’s wages to stay lower and their career progress to lag behind men’s. Also, it would limit men’s chance to be caregivers.
2. Not able to be transferred between parents: Leave policies should be individualized and given as a right to each parent, with the stipulation that “use it or lose it.” This is beneficial for both male and female caregivers, and is accommodating to a variety of family structures.
3. Payment based on parental income: To assist new parents and households, and particularly to boost male utilization of leave, it must be decently paid, and preferably, fully compensated through social security benefits. When leave is not paid (for either mothers or fathers), a great many people simply cannot manage the cost of taking it. In nations that may not have social security systems in place, other public funding alternatives should be recommended and backed.
4. Sufficiently long for each parent, with a least of 16 weeks for each: We back the European Union’s suggestion of 16 weeks as the minimal period of leave that is needed to provide parents with the necessary support in their roles as caregivers and in fostering long-term equality in caregiving.
5. Job Security Provided: Nobody should be dismissed from their job, or face punishment through a decrease in salary or lack of advancement, as a consequence of taking time off to care for a child.
6. Incentivization and Support: Though a leave policy may be present, if there is discouragement from employers, peers, and society overall, men (and many women) will not avail of the policy. Both men and women should be made to feel that they are supported in utilizing the existing leave.
7. All types of employees should be eligible for leave and other supportive policies, not just those on full-time, formal contracts. This includes those who are employed part-time, seasonally, on short-term contracts, or any other setup.
8. To ensure equity in all caregiving, particularly in low-income settings, policies must be in place that combine paid, equitable parental leave with access to subsidized, top-notch childhood education and care, along with other measures that promote balance in caregiving and shift perspectives on the matter: It is essential to establish paid parental leave in tandem with access to first-rate early childhood education and care for all kids, as well as other strategies to lighten the load of caregiving and alter the norms around it.
9. All types of caregivers should be provided with leave, including same-sex couples, opposite-sex couples, adoptive parents, and single parents who have a child with a disability.
10. Government-mandated and enshrined in both national law and international agreements: Leave should not be completely dependent on employers and individuals; rather, it should be part of existing or new employment benefits or social insurance, and should be supported by international organizations.
Leave provisions which give paid, irrevocable holidays for males and females help to promote gender parity, social justice, and the general welfare of women, children, and men.
Females: Taking time off work by males is advantageous to women in many ways; it helps maintain their positions, makes them more desirable to employers, and reduces the amount of care and housework they have to do; this consequently promotes their physical and mental health.
Kids: Around the world, numerous studies show that when fathers are actively involved and supportive in their children’s lives, it has positive results.
Men: Fathers who take an active role in their offspring’s lives tend to enjoy longer and healthier lives. Moreover, they also benefit from enhanced mental health, better interpersonal relationships, and increased contentment.
Companies are finding that offering paid leave to their workers is beneficial for their businesses, as it assists in keeping workers, boosts morale and efficiency, diminishes absenteeism and staff turnover, and reduces the costs associated with training and replacing staff.
Societies: Fathers taking time off has advantages for the whole community, which leads to the appreciation of caretaking, and the lessening of the longstanding differences between genders.