Anne Hathaway, a mom and actress, has a lot to say on paid parental leave–she of all people understands how hard it is to balance family with work. This is why Oscar-winner gave a speech yesterday on International Women’s Day at the United Nations, addressing this issue.
Hathaway, who is married to Adam Shulman, who is a Jewish actor, producer and jewelry designer, gave birth to their son last year. She spoke about how traditional gender roles are not only detrimental to families, but to society as a whole considering the U.S. doesn’t have a federal paid leave policy. The only thing official is that some new parents qualify for up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave under the Family Medical Leave Act.
“Somehow we and every American parent were expected to be back to normal in under three months without income. I remember thinking to myself, ‘If the practical reality of pregnancy is another mouth to feed in your home and America is a country where most people are living paycheck to paycheck, how does 12 weeks of unpaid leave economically work?’ The truth is for too many people it doesn’t.
The assumption and common practice that women and girls look after the home and the family is a stubborn and very real stereotype that not only discriminates against women, but limits men’s participation and connection with the family. The deeper into the issue of paid parental leave I go, the clearer I see the connection between persisting barriers to women’s full equality and empowerment, and the need to redefine, and in some cases de-stigmatize, men’s role as caregivers. In other words, to liberate women, we need to liberate men.”
When Hathaway asks the question, “how does 12 weeks of unpaid leave economically work?”, the real answer is, it doesn’t. For many parents, it doesn’t–and that’s for parents who actually qualify in the first place, which many don’t. You only qualify if this applies to you:
“The Family and Medical Leave Act, which was passed in 1993, applies to companies that employ 50 or more people within a 75-mile radius of the workplace. It says that if you have been employed for at least one year by the company you now work for, and work at least 25 hours a week, you can take up to 12 weeks of unpaid, job-protected leave in any 12-month period for the birth of your baby. All 12 weeks of maternity leave can be taken at the same time or they can be broken up over the course of the year before or after the birth of your baby. Under this law, you must be restored to an equivalent position with equal benefits when you return. (A loophole in this law says this doesn’t apply to employees in the top 10 percent compensation bracket.) You can find more detailed information at the FMLA website.”
Watch her full speech below (and bask in the glory that a “Princess Diaries 3” may still happen, according to her costar Julie Andrews):