Being a woman is hard enough already – periods, body image issues and unequal pay. Not only do men outnumber women in positions of power in the workforce, they have decided that pushing a human being out of your body is not a good enough excuse to miss work.
Millions of Americans are not offered a single day off of work after the birth of their child. According to Paid Leave for the United States (PL+US), a nonprofit organization that advocates for paid family leave, one in four moms go back to work within 10 days of bearing a child.
Without any other options, women are forced to leave their newborn children at home and go to work mentally and physically exhausted in order to keep their jobs. How else are they going to provide for the newborn baby that’s now crying itself hoarse due to the negative effects of maternal separation?
Although companies are given the choice to offer their employees paid leave, it’s not surprising that most of them choose not to. After all, paying people who are not working seems like an easy way to lose precious money.
According to a PL+US report, 94 percent of low-income employees have no access to paid maternity leave. The report exhibits unequal policies from the nation’s largest employers, who only provide top-level employees with paid leave, leaving the average working class (including a majority of their employees) without it.
Companies like Starbucks and Walmart offer corporate parents paid leave benefits, while baristas and in-store employees get nothing.
“The people who most need paid family leave are the least likely to have it,” the PL+US report read.
If paid maternity leave became a national requirement in the United States, it could eliminate one more factor contributing to the nation’s ongoing myth of equal opportunity among socioeconomic classes.
Although 40 percent of families with children rely on the mother as the primary breadwinner, the U.S. still remains the only country among 41 nations that does not mandate any paid leave for new parents, according to Pew Research Center.
Different countries provide different variations of paid leave. The smallest amount of paid leave required in any of the other 40 nations is in New Zealand, and it covers at least two months. Countries like Estonia, in comparison, offer new parents more than a year and a half of paid leave.
Valerie O’Regan, a political science professor at Cal State Fullerton, feels as if the U.S. is “behind the times” in regards to requiring maternity leave at a national level.
“The United States argues that it’s very pro-family, so it would make sense to provide policies that protect families,” O’Regan said.
It’s time that America catches up with the rest of the world by understanding that women should not be financially punished for bringing new life into the world. Why a mandated paid leave policy has not yet been enacted is absolutely baffling.
Try inviting men in positions of political power to experience childbirth and then return to work on Monday with no other options to financially support the expensive baby waiting for them at home. Maybe then Americans will understand that it is not a luxury, it’s a necessity.