ThinkProgress published a chart today that maps paid maternity leave around the world. Unpaid leave, lack of job protection and inadequate childcare options are major challenges for working mothers and pose barriers to advancement for women in all areas, including those in public service. The U.S. lags behind the developed world, and indeed much of the developing world, in terms paid maternity leave benefits.
Indeed, ThinkProgress reports:
“Out of 178 nations, the U.S. is one of three that does not offer paid maternity leave benefits, let alone paid leave for fathers, which more than 50 of these nations offer. In comparison, Canada and Norway offer generous benefits that can be shared between the father and mother, France offers about four months, and even Mexico and Pakistan are among the nations offer 12 weeks paid leave for mothers.
American women are offered 12 weeks of unpaid leave under the Family and Medical Leave Act, which exempts companies with fewer than 50 paid employees, but in 2011, only 11 percent of private sector workers and 17 percent of public workers reported that they had access to paid maternity leave through their employer. And for first-time mothers, only about half can take paid leave when they give birth.
At the same time that working women in the U.S. lack a benefit widely available across the globe, almost 50 percent of families had two working parents in 2010, and 26 percent of households were headed by single parents. Without guaranteed paid maternity leave, many of these working women face significant financial hardship by having to choose between their paycheck and their families.
Women are forced to put their careers and financial future at risk simply because they want to have children. During their pregnancy, they face being fired unfairly or not being able to properly care for themselves. They should not have to worry about making ends meet without paid maternity leave on top of that.”