I have six children, my pride and joy. They are also the primary reason for my political activism.
In total I spent 15 years at home taking care of our children. This has a big impact on my pension – only in 2005 you started to accrue a small pension for maternal leaves and parental leaves. Staying at home with my children instead of working outside our home had a dramatic and lasting effect on my pension, and my future.
As a young mother I did not really reflect on this. Today, I am well aware of the consequences. I do not regret the years I spent at home with my children, but I do wish that there had been real alternatives for my husband and me. And I do not want my daughters to experience the same consequences as me.
In an equal society we support each other. Everyone gets equal opportunities, and equal pay for work of equal value. True equality entails reforming family policies. Things are moving in the right direction, particularly in regards to the principle of equal pay for work of equal value. That more and more fathers take advantage of the statutory paternal leave, is another positive development. However, becoming a parent still affects women in the workplace far more than men in the workplace. Far too few fathers take paternal leaves. As long as the mothers almost by default stay at home with the child while the fathers work on their career, true equality cannot be achieved. We need parental leave specifically for fathers (and mothers) in order to change the status quo and the attitudes. Separate parental leaves for mothers and fathers ensure that both parents get the right and the opportunity to stay at home and take care of their children.
Children need their parents. And parents need each other. That is why I support the 6+6+6 model: a six month parental leave for the mother, another six months for the father, and then another six months that the parents can divide among themselves as they like,
Equality in the home and in the job market entails change, real change. Offering choices is good, but if we want to affect change more drastic measures. The 6+6+6 model can effect such change.
Progressive family policies strengthen women in the workplace, strengthen the fathers at home and create opportunities for all. A six-month paternal leave is also a huge advantage for the children – they have the right to their father as well as their mother! Let’s give the children, the mothers and the fathers the chance to grow, bond and flourish!