As promised, I am researching where the presidential candidates stand on issues that might be important to KT readers – with a special focus on federal maternity leave policies. I am only looking into McCain, Obama and Clinton for this particular entry – refuse to waste my time on Romney or Huckabee.
That said, along the way of researching the ways these candidates have addressed issues like maternity leave, I stumbled upon stories about European countries and their maternity leave policies. Hell, even our neighbor to the north, has an incredible policy as compared to ours.
So, while you are waiting at the edge of your seat for my Campaign 08 overview, I’ll give you something to feel depressed about.
As if it’s not bad enough that we’re not all living in Europe, here’s my effort at making you feel worse.
Take, for example, this story I found on maternity leave in Norway. Norwegian women are entitled to 12 months off with 80% pay or 10 months off with full pay.
And before you go spewing your coffee all over your keyboard in a fit of rage, allow moi to just make it worse and rub it in – fathers are encouraged to take as much time off as possible as well – and are required to take the first four weeks off. Apparently they believe in parental equality over there and somewhere along the way, someone got the memo that forcing fathers to stay home and learn how to take care of their own children, puts working women at an advantage because their spouse is then equally as participatory.
Wow. How shocking.
And further evidence that we are screwed here in the US – five out of 6 Norwegian mothers work.
You heard me. Five out of Six. And finally – to finish it off – they have state-sponsored daycare facilities in Norway.
So the next time we hear yet another story in the news and read a review of yet another book about why educated, professional women are “off-ramping” and staying home – perhaps we could stop a minute and realize the answer isn’t that difficult. It’s called lack of support from employers and our federal government.
And before I go and get all Michael Moore – one sided on you – it is important to realize that the Norwegian government and employers can afford such a generous plan because the taxes in Norway are sky high. That’s the catch. We have to be willing to pay substantially higher taxes to reap the benefits of such a system. But again, the flip side to high taxes is that when the sweet little babies grow up and want to go to college, instead of having to fork over $100k a year, university is free there. So what do you prefer? Pay now or pay later, kittens.
The woman featured in this piece on Norway ends with a quote on equality between men and women that should give you something to chew on because this, frankly, never occurred to me because if women in American can’t even get paid time off to have a baby, then we’re light years away from addressing equality between men and women in the workplace when balancing families:
“The system will not be completely fair to women until parental leave must be shared 50-50 between mother and father, by law. Only then will women be completely equal in the work market, and perhaps then we will choose to have even more children.”
If you’d like to read the article and start looking into moving costs to Norway, here it is kittens:
And if you’d like to get paid 10,000 euros to have a baby, then you should move to Poland: