After a welcome change in Maternity benefit Act, questions were raised about paternity leave to Women and Child development minister Maneka Gandhi. As quoted by her, “Paternity leave can be considered only if, once the woman goes back to work after her 26 weeks of leave, we find that men are availing their sick leave for a month to take care of the child. Let me see how many men do that. I will be happy to give it but for a man, it will be just a holiday, he won’t do anything.”
Our earlier generation had this norm that raising a child was completely a woman's responsibility. In fact, as women were confined to house, it did not give men a chance to participate in raising a child. However, the current scenario is different. When my son was born, my husband was very keen in taking up responsibilities of my son. He stayed awake to soothe him, changed his nappies and he did this because he wanted to be a part of all this things. My gynaecologist, was so impressed and she actually told me that now a days all fathers want to perform their duties of shared parenting.
As most of us stay in nuclear families, fathers now a days have to take their share of parenting. In my case my husband's company offers work from home option and mine do not, so whenever my son is ill, it is my husband who works from home and takes his care, as I should not deplete my leaves. Now a days, some companies in private sector do offer paternity leave but the duration of leave and other benefits as a working father are at par. Adding to this, if a minister has an opinion that Paternity leave will be just a holiday for men, it is quite disheartening.
Maybe what I am talking is an urban scenario and things might be different in rural India. But we need to change the society's attitude. We have to drop any assumptions that imply men don't care about parenting duties. A mandatory paternity leave is the first step to inculcate this change. Yes fathers are equally responsible for child care and when we talk about equality lets give them their fair share of privileges.
Happy Shared Parenting !!!