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Parental leave will address gender gap – Sosu

Accra: Mr Francis-Xavier Sosu, a National Democratic Congress Member of Parliament for Madina, says parental leave, ranging from seven days to four weeks for fathers to support their spouses after childbirth, will address the gender gap.

He, therefore, advocated an extensive leave for working parents to replace the existing three-month maternity leave, which he described as insufficient, particularly for women.

Mr Sosu, also a Human Rights Lawyer, made the statement at a stakeholders’ briefing workshop on the Maternity Leave Extension; Paternity Leave Introduction and removal of Value Added Tax (VAT) on imported pads Bill held in Parliament in on Monday.

The workshop is part of the MP’s efforts to address a Private Member’s Bill proposing an amendment to extend maternity leave from three months to four months introduced in Parliament.

The Bill, which seeks to amend the Labour Act, 2003 (Act 651), is also proposing an option for an additional two weeks of maternity leave in the case of a caesarean section
(CS), stillbirth(s) or multiple births.

The Bill’s primary objective is to promote gender equality and ensure protection for both men and women in a suitable context.

The Labour (Amendment) Bill, 2023, also known as Parental Leave for All, is pushing for the introduction of paid paternity leave for men for a minimum of seven days.

It is aimed at allowing new mothers adequate time to give birth, exclusively breastfeed, care for and bond with their new baby, as well as recover before returning to work.

The essence of paternity leave is to enable men to take care of their wives and assist the new mothers with domestic chores.

Mr Sosu emphasised that the proposed parental leave for fathers was pivotal in fostering shared responsibility in childcare.

‘The significance of the initial seven days will allow fathers to actively participate in late-night feedings and baby care, thereby contributing to the establishment of a strong bond with their newborns.’

‘I have had some women say why do you want men to also
have parental leave? Well, and I said, it’s the same thing. The advocacy in terms of bridging the gender gap has to do with protection for both men and women,’ the MP said.

Mr Sosu noted that the initial seven days were a critical period for ‘responsible’ fathers to be present during late-night baby care, fostering a deeper connection with their newborns and providing support to their wives who had given birth.

Madam Comfort Doyoe Cudjoe, a National Democratic Congress MP of Ada, said the affordability and availability of sanitary pads were a fundamental necessity to health, dignity, and access to education.

‘The call for the elimination of import duties and Value Added Tax is rooted in the belief that financial barriers should not deny anyone their basic human right to menstrual hygiene,’ she said.

Madam Gifty Twum Ampofo, a New Patriotic Party MP for Abuakwa North, called for the non-politicisation of the issues and that concerted efforts were needed to address them holistically to support both genders.

Other speakers called for the availability of sanitary pads to students in various schools as part of their prospectus.

Source: Ghana News Agency