Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Issues on the home front


I caught part of Oprah's show yesterday on the battle between stay-at-home mothers and working mothers. It is an issue that is either facing many of us currently, or perhaps some may face in the future. However, the statistics presented yesterday were stunning.

Oprah interviewed Elizabeth Vargas, the co-anchor of ABC's nightly news program. There was a controversy over her leaving to be home with her newborn baby. From the controversy, ABC news was inspired to do a segment on the working mothers vs. stay-at-home mothers battle in our country. Below is one of the statistics that she found in her research:

She says it was an eye-opening experience. "I was surprised when I found out how far the United States does lag behind other industrialized countries when it comes to paid maternity leave or family flexible policies," she says. "We are actually one of only four countries in the entire world that doesn't offer a national maternity leave program—Papua New Guinea, Swaziland and Lesotho are the other three countries. A lot of our European counterparts who have more socialized governments offer paid maternity leave. But even Japan, which is a capitalist society, offers paid maternity leave."

I was shocked to learn this information. It appears we still have a great deal of work to do in our own country for progress in women's issues. The show also revealed that undercover job applicants were told that if they were planning on becoming pregnant, they wouldn't be hired.

We still have developments to make here in our own country. As women leaders, I hope we will be instrumental in making these important strides for the future.

Sparkfly friends, is this an issue that proposes a conflict with you? If so, how? Has there been a debate within your circle of influence? In planning for the future, do you believe you can have it all?

May we remember the battles and predjudices on our own soil today and know that we still have a great work to do!

L

2 Comments:

Blogger ashlynn310 said...

This is issue is one that I have been talking about with a group of friends for the last few weeks. A dear friend of mine who is an elementary teacher, just had to return to school from her UNPAID materity leave. In such a proffession as an elementary teacher, where (at least where I am from) most of the teachers are female, it is absolutely ludicrous for there to not be paid maternity leave.

8:29 AM  
Blogger Mandy Mc said...

My mom and I were actually talking about this over the holidays. She works for the US department of labor and thus she knows all of the laws about family leave. I was schocked by some of the stuff she told me. I could not believe that women could be forced to take their vacation days or their paid time first - insane! There are a couple of good things on the books though. Women AND men are allowed 12 weeks of bonding time. And I think that just has to be taken during the first year of the baby's life so that one parent could theoretically be home with the baby for the first 6 months (though how this would be affordable for most individuals I don't know).

Another conversation that I had about this recently was with one of my friends. She is an elementary teacher and is due in August. She is trying to plan ahead so that she has to take as little time without pay as possible.

Maternity/Paternity leave is only the half of it though. When you go back to your job so that you can pay the bills, a good majority of your paycheck will go straight to daycare and paying for the increased health insurance.

I think that it is ridiculous that one of the "richest" nations in the world refuses to provide affordable daycare and healthcare to its citizens. Add this to the problem of maternity/paternity leave and it equals one big ball of stress that comes up everytime we start "planning when" to have a baby.

11:54 AM  

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