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Iceland, Germany, Japan, Malta, New Zealand, Latvia, Belarus, Moldova, Romania, Czhech Republic, Macedonia, Bosnia, Croatia, Ecuador, and a total of 178 countries have federally mandated paid maternity leave. Fifty of these countries offer leave to fathers. (Yes, they all should!). The United States has no federally mandated paid parental leave. ZERO. See here for specific parental leave policies.
I have read so many reactions this week to Anne-Marie Slaughter’s Atlantic article Why Women Still Can’t Have it All (which discussed societal barriers to women achieving the work-life balance the feminist movement has been striving for). So many of these responses have disregarded and negated an important feminist policy agenda by blaming women and feminists for the inability to “have-it-all,” and drumming up in-fighting among groups who should be banding together to advocate for the policies Slaughter calls for. They have crticized the idea of wanting to “have it all” as a privileged, selfish pursuit, bemoaned women expecting too much and having too high expectations, and discussed the fact that men, too, struggle to “have it all.” They painted an overall picture of neurotic, perfectionistic modern mothers driving themselves crazy and needing to take it down a notch.
Ok, maybe no one “has it all,” as this Jezebel article argues, but women in Malta have 14 weeks of 100% paid maternity leave. Women in Sweden enjoy 16 months of 100% paid parental leave which they can use or share with the child’s father until age 8. In France, every child has access to free daycare, early childhood education, and healthcare. Clearly the women in these countries need to stop buying into some fantastical feminist line about a work-life balance no human being can attain!