UN study shows United States as the only industrialized nation without maternity leave
As we know by now, kids tend to ruin your life. But, now, with a new study from the UN showing the United States remains as the only industrialized nation without maternity leave, we know a little more about why.
Having performed a survey of their 185 member nations, the UN has found that just two countries don’t require paid maternity leave: the United States and Papua New Guinea. For those of us not in the know, Papua New Guinea is an island-nation of about seven million people and a per capita GDP of less than $3,000.
So, as countries, we’re not exactly on the same playing field. But, still, that doesn’t alleviate the United States similar approach to child rearing—which, apparently, is supposed to be as laissez faire as the economy our new mothers are stimulating.
Sure, there are higher end corporate jobs that afford six to 12 weeks of maternity leave, but those positions are rare. Jobs lower on the economic scale supply even less cushion, with most women in those positions having to take unpaid time off work, take disability pay, or begin working again immediately following their child’s birth. That same trouble, naturally, is compounded for non-white and poor working women.
The result, of course, is a strained parenting relationship, or, often times, one that never begins at all. In fact, according to a poll from Guttmacher, some 73 percent of women who had abortions did so because raising their child wasn’t economically feasible at the time of their pregnancy. Paid maternity leave stands a good chance at stomping down that number, along with increasing female participation in the workforce and contributing to alleviating that whole “kids ruin your life” thing.
Luckily, national legislation is coming. Rep. Rosa DeLauro (CT) and Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (NY) have introduced legislation that would establish a fund for nationwide maternity leave by carving a trust fund-sized chunk out of the Social Security Administration’s budget. Currently, only California and Rhode Island offer similar benefits to women within their borders.
For our children’s sake, let’s hope that changes soon. We can't hate them for much longer.