An article in Swedish Dagens Nyheter tells us that Eva-Britt Svensson, a Left party politician, chair of the European Parliament's Committee on Women's Rights and Gender Equality is satisfied with the new bill on maternity leave because she managed to add a clause which guarantees fathers a measly two weeks of paid paternity leave.
Now, let me tell you something about this bill. This bill proposes to extend the paid maternity leave from 14 to 18 weeks all over the European Union (only six weeks full pay), something which is fantastic and probably much needed. What it also does is make it mandatory by law for women to take six weeks straight after birth. This is claimed to be for the protection of the mother.
While I can see the validity in the aforementioned argument, as a woman, who enjoys a great amount of civil rights, I want to punch these politicians in the face. How, oh mighty EU parliamentaries, how does this piece of legislation help women in claiming their rights? All it does is institutionalise women's role as care takers in society. I realise that a similar legislation might be necessary for countries where maternity leave is not a certainty. I am not opposed to women's rights to maternity leave, but I fail to see how this piece is anything but institutionalising sexism even further.
Also, for Svensson to be positive about this bill is just ridiculous. How does she think that guaranteeing fourteen days of paid paternity leave can actually trumph me, or any woman, actively deciding how she wants to spend her time after giving birth. And for this to come from a Left partist, it makes me happy to know that I would never vote for her or her comrades.
Being fair, Svesson says in the article that she is not happy with the focus on mothers in the bill, probably because it makes gender stereotypes more rigid. But in my eyes, Eva-Britt Svensson, this is a FAIL. A huge let down to all the women across Europe who will now have to take a step back into the entrenched sexism in today's society in legally fulfilling their roles as the society's care takers. The women have been put in their place yet again. Thank you.
The Daily Mail has a slightly different take on this. I have one solution for their argument that this might make women more unemployable; get some solid legislation in place against discriminating those who keep on producing those people that keep your country going!