We are a group of campaigners for equal opportunities for women and men at work and at home. For the first time in the debate about parenting, we are mothers and fathers speaking together with one voice. We are focusing on leave entitlements for mothers and fathers with babies and young children. The aim then is to build a wider alliance with gender equality organisations, unions, human resources departments and family/child welfare services. And with mothers and fathers who believe in and want more equal opportunity. We are building the network now.
Leave entitlements in UK do not facilitate the substantial sharing of care between women and men in the first years after a baby is born. The Government’s prediction for the uptake of the shared leave arrangements currently being introduced is 4%. This compares to 88% in Sweden, 69% in Portugal and 32% in Germany.
Three times in the last 20 years leave entitlements have been debated; each time arguments in favour of effective support for sharing have been defeated behind closed doors. Next time we want to win the argument through a full and public debate, like equality campaigners have done in other countries.
% uptake of shared leave
% - predicted to double all the way to 4%. A step in the right direction or a random step in no direction?!
“Promotion of gender equality in the household, particularly with regard to parents, is a key step in laying the foundation for gender equality in society more broadly.” Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, Executive Director, UN Women
State of the World’s Fathers Report, 2015
“Equal pay between men and women needs to be promoted, including by combatting gender-based stereotypes about women’s roles and aspirations.....advocating for an equal sharing of family responsibilities, and strengthening policies on maternity, paternity and parental leave.” Manuela Tomei, ILO
ILO’s Global Wage Report 2014/2015
We are looking for allies at the moment – individuals who feel passionately about this subject and organisations who need there to be greater equality.
How do we frame the debate so that it connects with public concerns? How do we counter arguments against shareability – that it is bad for business, bad for breastfeeding and bad for vulnerble women?
How will we bring the arguments to public attention when the time is right? (When the current leave arrangements are seen to be failing and the debate comes round once again.)
The final stage: getting a change to the legislation so that millions more mothers and fathers have the option to share work and care in whatever way really is best for their family: a level playing field.
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