As a final stamp of the State’s reputation as the most gender-compliant state of the federation, the Lagos State Executive Council has approved a new policy that will allow new fathers to take a ten day “Paternity Leave”.
As a way to encourage good parenting among its workforce, the state also extended the maternity leave of its female employees by three months, bringing it to a total of six months though both the extension of maternity and the 10-day paternity leaves will apply only for the first two births of the couple.
The policy, it was said, was to enable parents give their new born babies the required attention in their first few months in life, and also in keeping with the state’s policy of exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months of a baby’s life. It will enable mothers take proper care of their babies and recoup well from the stress of child birth before resuming work.
Clearly, Lagos is at the forefront of tackling major social issues, even before they become calamities.
The consequences of extensive work life of career officers in the public service was reduced attention by such parents to the basic developmental needs of their infants, especially during the first six months. The common reaction is for nursing mothers to leave their children in the hands of daycare nannies at such tender age of six weeks. Many times, the ‘nanny’ is herself an under aged housegirl.
The policy obviously has a human face, and nursing/pregnant women all over Lagos ought to be rejoicing that they won’t have to wake up all alone in the night while spouses sleep on, with the excuse of having to go to work in the morning.
But Mrs Iyabo Akande, an expectant mother who chatted with Lipstick while waiting for ante-natal care at one of the state’s general hospitals, is not quite impressed with the move.
“Were they not supposed to be at home in the first place?” She quipped. “It is not a paternity leave for some people to go and be drinking beer. And if people now have to enter the kitchen and be cooking for them what is then the point of their being at home?”
Also raising the question of polygamy, she asks rhetorically: “what if the child is an ‘outside’ child? Does paternity leave still apply?”
The move has been widely hailed by the Non-Governmental Organization (NGO) Community; which has praised the policy as one which has the power to move the country towards achieving the Millennium Development Goals (MGDs).
Definitely, other states should borrow a leaf from Fashola’s Lagos, which is becoming the most Gender compliant state.
Even in nations such as the United Kingdom (UK) where the idea of a paternity leave is not so strange anymore (and where it is illegal for employers to dismiss or penalise workers who ask to take paternity leave, regardless of how long they have been employed for), it is not yet Uhuru!
Research suggests that 70% of part-time working fathers think there is a social stigma attached to it.
Fathers are choosing not to take paternity leave, believing there is a social stigma against dads who choose to work part-time, research suggests. A quarter thought it could damage their career in the future. Only a quarter of fathers who work part-time did not have any concerns about the option.
40% of men opt out of their right to take time off for childcare, and stay in the office instead.
Nearly 80% of fathers working part-time thought it was seen as supportive, only 21% said cooking, cleaning and childcare should be done equally between both partners.
Under the new system, mothers and fathers could share 46 weeks, with Dad taking over the leave when Mom went back to work. Government ministers are apparently mulling other modifications as well, including allowing parents to take leave in separate blocks rather than all at once, and instituting some kind of “use it or lose it” system to encourage men to actually take paternity leave.
This percentage of Swedish fathers were taking paternity leaves as at 2011, taking considerable pressure off moms.