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Paternal leave is not a luxury, it is a legality!

family & law

Photo ReportingPaternal leave is not a luxury, it is a legality!

When I first raised the issue, it received all manner of flak and comments on facebook and whatsapp. The ladies in particular took umbrage for what seems to them the gender bias phenomenon at play, if you like sexism.



But yet, I am resolute in what I might have said that triggered over 100 comments within 2 hours, with most of them not too good to make a muscle memory of.

I should be the last to be a sexist anyway, since I am studying a course in this semester- women in history, and know from the days of yore, the subjugation of women and the deliberate chauvinism by men with the justification from the Bible and oral tradition, that forbid women from asserting their rights and narrow them into hermitage domestic jobs of cooking, tendering kids and serving as pleasure vessels, all within the house domain.

Paternity leave has been a long standing item on the European Union Social Policy Agenda features in 1989, which states that measures should be developed enabling men and women to reconcile their occupational and family obligations.

The Social Policy Agenda, therefore espoused that men and women must have an individual non-transferable right to at least three months parental leave for child care purposes(as distinct from maternity leave)after the birth or adoption of a child until a given age of up to eight years to be defined by member states and /or management and labour. The E.U parental leave agreement will later serve as the template by which African nations would decide whether it’s feasible for a couple to be granted leave following the birth of their child.

According to a release by ILO (International Labour Organization) on the 16th February, 1998, more than 120 countries around the world provide paid maternity leave and health benefits. Among countries with the best comprehensive leave policy for women during and after child birth include, Czech Republic-28 weeks, Hungary-24 weeks and Italy-5 months.

Denmark, Norway and Sweden all provide extensive paid leave which may be taken by either parent, although a portion is reserved for the mother. African countries which give much premium to the maternal leave policy include; Algeria-14 weeks of 100% paid wages, Angola-12 weeks of 100% paid wages. Lesotho is the lowest on the list with no paid benefits. In the case of Ghana, 12 weeks and 50% of paid wages, with the payer being the employer and not social security as in most cases.

Of all this available statistics above, however, conspicuously missing, is the paternal leave factor. As no African country is making the effort to provide for paternal leave, Ghana, following the footsteps of Denmark, Finland and Norway will boost investor appetite as a trailblazer of a very innovative work family- balance- policy to serve as an example to other African countries.

Long before the implementation of paternity leave in some developed countries, it was met with a fierce campaign, with their female counterparts firmly rooting to picket on the streets against its implementation.

Nations that have seen the importance of the father in the upbringing of the child in the first few months of birth attribute it to a delicate period of a Childs life to complete his/her psychological needs. It also seeks to address the gap between fathers and their kids’ right after birth and put them in their rightful place as first bonds of love.

A reverse of this, typifies why children tend to love their mothers more than their fathers, in the African story and elsewhere. Some of my discussants who vouched my stance explicitly gave tacit reasons why the male worker should also enjoy paternity leave without a gaffe.

One discussant probed further with a very important issue that granting paternity leave will chart a new roadmap to meeting the requirements for equal opportunities among the sexes, which the female counterpart so much clamor for. Indubitably, at the behest of our constitution, all citizens are enjoined to equal opportunities. Maternal leave without paternal leave will be lopsided as it favors one at the expense of the other and defeats the purpose of gender parity as enshrined in our constitution.

In as much as we may consider the E.U agreement too luxurious for Africa, and for that matter, Ghana, I propose a 2 weeks paid paternal leave for the father in the medium term, who will do the bulk of the domestic load heaped on him immediately after a child’s birth, when the woman is almost bed-ridden.

Previous studies have also shown that fathers who have taken paternity leave are more likely, a year or so down the road, to change diapers, bath their children and get up at night to tend to their kids. This is a very important step for family reunion as it will reduce the African men’s chauvinistic tendencies over their wives, reduce family related conflicts including assaults and battery, extend the existing bond of love and make the man more responsive to his fatherly roles.

Existential data from our own Departments, Agencies and even Ministries will reveal that, men’s life changes just as much as they hear their wive’s screaming with a positive pregnancy test ushering them into fatherhood status for the first-time.

Those crucial moments create panics, leading to mood swings and unperturbed anxiety-riddling. The consequential effect is less output at work. It will, therefore, be prudent if such people are given the leeway to rest and recuperate from the tumultuous time of father-anxiety, after the birth of the child?

I open up the debate, and throw the gauntlet on politicians to do a dissection of this subject on the floor of the house with no meanness to have this considered in our law books, for I believe this subject can cause a boisterous stir in the minds of assertive policy makers who will do justice to it. The subject in question is captured in a compendium of the most intricate controversial inconclusive subjects of our generation.

Nations in the modern age have begun recognizing women as the sole agents of continuity of the human race, therefore, they have promulgated laws that will protect their jobs, maintain their health and promote their well-being, oblivious of the father- factor.

As I perfectly understand, somebody out there will underscore this article as a cheap western life gimmick. Let us together do a cost benefit analysis of this debate aforementioned in this article against a vague, nebulous rendition from an African perspective. It is obvious, as it will increase worker comfy, increase job satisfaction, make work place friendlier and increase the overall productivity of work.

Fathers too will not have to invent unnecessary alibis at work for the short reprieve of commitment to the course of their families, during the early period of their children’s upbringing.

By Carl Achana Atiyire

Staff Nurse

Ridge Regional Hospital (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. )



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