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Symposium 2012

Proposal - Promoting changes in the dynamics of family child care through suitable periods of paternity leave.

The Challenge

In the wake of the global crisis, there is clear momentum towards changing the way that business is conducted—whether in the form of increased regulations, greater accountability or changing corpora ...

In the wake of the global crisis, there is clear momentum towards changing the way that business is conducted—whether in the form of increased regulations, greater accountability or changing corporate leadership. Such initiatives include changing the composition of corporate boards to include more women. What progress has been made on these initiatives and what would make them more effective?

Enact a law in order to extend the period of paternity leave to encourage paternal involvement in the tasks of creating and raising children, especially in the period immediately after the birth of the child.

The notion that raising children is almost an exclusive responsibility of women prevails in most contemporary societies. In this perspective, it is difficult to find place for greater paternal participation and responsibility in baby care.

This kind of thinking is reflected in the legislation establishing the periods of paternity leave in certain countries: according to the International Labor Organization (ILO), the shorter periods of paternity leave are founded in Brazil and Chile, whose term is up to 5 days. In France, for instance, the period of paid paternity leave is 11 days, and in Finland it is 18 days. In such cases, the woman ends up having to forgo advance your career, or even, she gives up of achieving certain executive positions and participation in boards of directors, since they consider these functions incompatible with motherhood.

However, some societies have managed to overcome this conservative point of view and gave greater emphasis to paternal involvement in child-rearing through rules which provide longer terms of paternity leave. This is the case of Sweden, for example, which has the longest period of paternity leave in the world, since its legislation establishes a deadline of 480 days leave, which can be randomly divided between the father and mother and enjoyed since the date of baby’s birth until the eighth year of the child's life. Iceland and Norway are also interesting examples of division of tasks between spouses. In Iceland, the period of paternity leave is 90 days exclusive to the father and the other 90 days can be divided the way the couple wishes. In Norway, the term is 46 weeks divided between father and mother, and, within that period, there is a minimum period of 10 weeks that should be enjoyed by father.

The inclusion of women on Boards depends on a balance between professional and personal life, enabling women who aspire to reach these positions the option of choosing to be mothers without necessarily having to give up their career. This balance can be achieved in several ways, which are often related to changing the culture of a society that sees women as solely responsible for the care of children, while the father is seen as the provider of resources to the welfare of family from the fruits of their labor.

While the cultural perspective of some societies does not present much evidence of change, legislative measures that foster this social change are needed. One of these measures is a legislative amendment to extend paternity leave in order to impose a more active paternal involvement in childcare. The goal is to create equal opportunities for both genders in childcare and in accessing senior management positions.

Examples of division of care between the mother and father are good initiatives that seek to balance couple’s work and family life and seek to enable equal opportunities between genders. So, both man and woman can achieve executive positions and seats on Boards if it is their desire. The existence of appropriate norms establishing a more egalitarian division in parenting has consequences for the life of the couple.

Therefore, it is required that Legislative and Executive branches adopt a standard that suits periods of parental leave in order to make it more equitable participation of both parents in raising their children by creating the necessary structure capable of providing a greater dedication to the work of women and their integration into the Boards.

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