Why Pakistan needs paternity leave
AS we feel the bleakness of uncertainty due to the political turmoil, the newly passed Maternity and Paternity Leave Bill and its application in the federal territory come forth as a breather. It serves as major good news for citizens, as it is high time we look at how becoming a parent is a major lifestyle change for both parents, where the fathers too need a certain amount of time to understand the new work-life balance.
This may still be a concept in its infancy stage in Pakistan, but elsewhere, developed countries have been effectively advocating as to how having paternity leave isn’t just positively affecting the mental health of the fathers but also allowing them to get a better sense of the plight and sacrifices of mothers- both stay-at-home and working mothers.
According to a recent survey in the States, it was determined that 90 percent of the fathers who took on paternity leaves have seen a major improvement in their relationship with their spouses. This is in effect to them being far more helpful at home than usual. When they are able to experience and participate in childcare without the added pressure of work chores, it allows them to get a better sense of how responsibilities are to be distributed.
While there may be certain cases where women are willing and happy to take on the role of homemakers, a larger percentage wishes to pursue their studies and careers further without having to let go of the dream of having a family too. Having a considerate partner allows this family paradigm to become workable. The cultural context of how paternity leave is as essential as maternity leave allows for both partners to practice the art of equality when managing their home.
And with the governmental nudge of having such kinds of bills getting approved, it opens the floor for public reflection. Having a baby is a definite change; it is going to set forth some shifts to your daily routine. So when you have both partners together figuring out the new ‘normal’, there is little room for unpleasant surprises.
Research suggests that paternity leave is also a really strong way for relationship stability. It is because of its emphasis on family life. Many mothers, who become incredibly overwhelmed, get anxiety and other health concerns when they feel they are failing in balancing home and baby care. In fact, there have been certain studies indicative of how paternal involvement has played a major role in combating the symptoms of postpartum depression in new mothers.
There has also been a surge in ‘satisfied’ employees who are getting time off after the birth of their child. Childcare hours allow fathers to be able to unwind and relax- this leads to a stronger realization of how valuable time is, with many committing to being present for their families during the initial stages. Strong family units are essential for an effectively working society that navigates and integrates a father’s role and responsibility to his family with the same substance as it does his career advancement.
—The writer is contributing columnist, based in Islamabad.
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