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Mothers can, why not fathers

Fathers invited to take paternity leave to help when babies are born
It’s been proposed that men be invited to take a one-month vacation to help at the time of new babies being born, with the time paid for by the state.

Young fathers responsible in their mission

Kirill Rudyi, Assistant to the President, tells us, “It’s discriminatory to restrict such leave to mothers only, as maternity leave. It promotes a stereotype that childrearing is the sphere of women only.” He believes that social policy needs to be updated, with fathers having the option of separate, independent, paternity leave.

The issue was first raised during the President’s State of the Nation Address to the Belarusian people and the National Assembly at the end of April, when delegates proposed the motion. The President seemed surprised by the idea of the state paying for both parents to take time off work to care for a new baby, saying, “Probably it’s a little too soon.” However, he agreed that mothers would surely appreciate the extra help, and gave directions for the issue to be considered.

As a result, paternity leave has been included in the 2016-2020 National Demographic Security Programme of the Republic of Belarus, drawing on the experience of Sweden, where fathers receive ten paid days, for use within a two month period.

The Head of the Department of Population, Gender and Family Policy of the Ministry of Labour and Social Protection, Marina Artemenko, tells us, “Whether Belarus can afford social leave for fathers is now being investigated by the Government.” By law, any relative can take maternity leave but only where a mother works or is a full-time student. The employee who takes care of the baby cannot be dismissed.

Last year, more than three thousand (1 percent) of Belarusian fathers and grandfathers officially registered for paternity leave, taking this instead of mothers. It is believed that men tend to do so for financial reasons, where their wife earns more, or where the man faces a difficult situation at work.

Starting school second time 

Minsk and Gomel both run a Father-School project, showing men how to embrace fatherhood. Women are not permitted to take part, explains moderator Mikhail Matskevich. He notes, “We don’t prepare men for the time of childbirth that being the role of specialised centres. Rather, we help men to discover father instincts. There are 7-9 men in each group, who attend a course of nine evening classes. We discuss ways of sharing chores and your relationship with your wife after childbirth. We talk about how the personality of the baby is formed, and psychologists, teachers and medical professionals give classes. Absolutely free.”

Men tend to be 30-40 years old, and expecting their second or third baby, being of all professions, including businessmen and military men, doctors and policemen.

By Yekaterina Krotova
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