America (including Maryland) needs a sensible paid family leave policy | READER COMMENTARY
For The Baltimore Sun|
May 18, 2020 at 11:11 AM
Bravo to Wendy Chun-Hoon (“This Mother’s Day let’s bring attention to the lack of support for the caregiving role mothers play," May 8) for calling out the societal hypocrisy of treating mothers to bouquets and brunch on the second Sunday of May but denying so many of them paid maternity leave throughout the year. The U.S. is the only industrialized country on the planet with no paid family leave program. As a result, nearly 25% of women take 10 days or fewer of maternity leave, putting themselves and their children at risk, physically and emotionally. In this case, men get no special privileges — despite evidence that early paternal involvement pays lasting dividends, three out of four new fathers take one week or less of leave when their babies are born.
We sorely need a national paid family policy, but in its absence, states have taken the lead. Eight states, plus our neighbors in the District of Columbia, have already enacted paid family leave laws. Although it faced hidebound opposition, a Maryland proposal had gained traction before the coronavirus crisis forced a premature adjournment of the General Assembly in March. And yet, ironically, the pandemic has itself spotlighted the need for this critical policy.
As our country and our state start to emerge from this unprecedented period in our history, let’s hope that one of the lessons we learn is that we all need time to care — for our babies, our mothers, other loved ones and ourselves.
Kesha-Simone Jones, Baltimore
The writer is chief executive officer of Kesha Jones Strategic Financial Solutions.