Mandatory Two-month Paid Paternity Leave for all Fathers in India

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Fueling my passion for journalism comes with challenges. I am sure other jobs are not easy either, and motherhood can make it difficult for all women to remain competitive at work.

The months ahead of the 2011 Tamil Nadu polls were not just crucial, but also exciting for a TV journalist. But I was pregnant, and due to deliver my baby during the final months of the campaign. I was away from the heat and dust of politics, safeguarding my little baby. After the pregnancy, if I could get back to work sooner and happier, it was because of one crucial person – my husband, who stayed back home to take care of the baby.

New mothers pay a heavy price at work due to pregnancy. We lose at least a year of our career due to the physical toll pregnancy takes on us. We are sleep-deprived and tired, and getting back to work can be difficult. And when men are not around to share the responsibility, the burden of parenting falls entirely on our shoulder, crippling us from doing anything else for years after.

My husband’s company had no paternity leave policy, but he was able to take nearly 5 weeks off active work after the baby was born thanks to empathetic bosses. Having him around in those crucial days meant the parenting was genuinely shared. I got the peace of mind and the time to attend to work when I wanted. I could get enough, quality sleep. I felt energised.

Having the father home for the first few weeks is important. Research shows that active fatherhood is good for the father’s health, their relationship with their family and the social, emotional, physical and cognitive development of their children. Being with the child in the first few weeks lays the foundation for life-long equal parenting. Fathers form a bond with the child and the child understands that parenting is not just mom’s job.

And that’s why, I am petitioning the Ministry of Women and Child Welfare, and all Members of Parliament in the Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha, to draft and pass a law mandating all public and private organisations in India to provide the option of two months paid paternity leave for fathers.

The Indian government must bring in support from political parties and corporate India. Fathers taking more time away from work could reduce their immediate productivity, but research has shown that equal parenting will improve the participation of women at work and have overall positive impact on the economy. Satisfied fathers will also make a satisfied workforce – there are several men who want to take a long paternity leave but are unable to do so now.

Enacting the law will only be the first step, but it is a crucial one. After the law is passed, incentives have to be created to ensure men take the paternity leave without hesitation and share the responsibilities at home.

Sign this petition, let’s energise moms.