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Women's group advocates forced leaves for fathers

The Shanghai Women's Federation is proposing that new fathers be required to take paternity leave to help relieve mothers' burdens related to the newborn and further improve gender equality in the workplace.

The proposal was delivered during the ongoing annual sessions of the municipal legislative and political advisory bodies by the federation, an organization dedicated to safeguarding women's rights and interests.

Currently, new parents in Shanghai can enjoy up to 138 days of paid leave for maternity and paternity - 128 days for women and 10 for men. But mothers typically take on most of the chores associated with babies while many fathers give up their permitted leaves and continue with their jobs.

"Both the husband and wife are responsible for the newborn and they should both take leaves to participate in taking care of the baby as much as possible from the very beginning," said Huang Qi, a municipal political adviser and vice-chairwoman of the federation.

As such, the organization suggested that women take the full 98-day leave after giving birth, as suggested by the International Labor Organization, while the couple could share the remaining 40-days based on negotiations between husband and wife.

China allows two children for all couples - a policy adopted at the beginning of 2016. But the number of births has continued to fall since 2017, partly because of women's concerns about the time and energy required to take care of babies.

The number of births in China dropped from 17.86 million in 2016 to 15.23 million in 2018, and various polls have shown a declining willingness to give birth among women of childbearing age.

A key goal of the proposal is to improve gender equality both at home and in the workplace, according to Huang, as women currently feel disadvantaged in getting jobs and promotions, especially after the universal second-child policy took effect.

A national survey of more than 40,000 women in the workplace published by online recruitment platform last year found that nearly two in three of them believed that childbearing affects a woman's career development.

"If fathers must take compulsory paternity leave, it will narrow the difference of employing men and women and thus guarantee women's rights and reduce employment discrimination," Huang said.

"If our suggestion helps tackle one of the concerns of women in giving birth, it may promote a willingness to have children," she said, adding that the suggested incentive in Shanghai may serve as a model for the country.

Some mothers in Shanghai thought it was a good idea. Wang Shuang, mother of a 4-year-old boy, said: "In many cases, we hear that while new mothers devote their time and energy taking care of the newborn, fathers participate little - often with the excuse of work, and that impairs marital relations and the children's upbringing in the long run.

"I believe this suggestion is a good approach to encourage fathers' deeper involvement in household duties, but still how much men are actually involved depends on their initiative."

Source:China Daily  Editor:Lucky

(Source_title:Women's group advocates forced leaves for fathers)