Paternity leave – to take or not to take?
06 Mar 2014
Blog by Ugiloy Juraboeva & Zumrad Sagdullaeva
Does it struck you too how strange it is that women in our offices take maternity leave automatically but among men it is not taken for granted? We, Ugiloy and Zumrad, were interested to know more about the trends among our male colleagues in UNDP on use of the paternity leave entitlement. If there are cases of refusal, we wanted to dig deeper and find out the rationale and possible hindrances which were ‘invisible to the eye’. That is how this blog idea came to us.
In order to get answers to these questions we conducted interviews with male colleagues who had embraced parenthood for the last 5 years. First of all, we have learnt that despite good ‘delivery rate’, very few decided to take paternity leave, but those who did seemed to have incredibly benefited from the precious memories and quality time spent with a newborn. You can enjoy reading, impressions of our colleague, Azizkhon Bakhadirov, in his blog.
Secondly, the interviews revealed many interesting factors that influence men’s decision as to the paternity leave, particularly when it comes to reasons not to take it, which in summary include the following:
· underestimation of the father figure during the first year of a child’s life, i.e. assuming that they would hardly be useful, as mothers normally take lead and they are more capable of child care.
· fear of becoming a laughing stock in front of the other male colleagues who adhere to traditional norms.
· a workaholic syndrome and difficulties with backstopping arrangements.
A comforting thought is that many of the interviewees have realized the missed opportunity and are willing to take paternity leave in future. However, the factors mentioned above indicate need for further awareness raising about the importance of shared parenting and fatherhood at the early stage of child development. Time should come when paternity leave is not questioned but taken by default just like the current practice of maternity leaves. In this regard, supervisor’s encouragement and support is crucial, which will also help to ensure that necessary working arrangements are in place. Furthermore, we believe that stories conveying all the joy and benefits brought by the paternity leave can help motivate more male colleagues and diminish ridicule the latter can be subject to. So we call on our male colleagues to share their stories more and more through blogging.
Importantly, paternity leave creates an opportunity not only for children but also for the spouse, especially housewives, to dedicate more time to their development and empowerment.
On the final note we want to leave an open question: what could female colleagues in the office do to encourage male colleagues to take up the important paternity leave and share the joy and the tasks of child care?