On International Women’s Day, actress Anne Hathaway visited the United Nations to speak on the importance of the day.
A UN Women Goodwill Ambassador, the actress used her platform to discuss the huge disparities between how the world views the roles of mothers and fathers, especially in the first few weeks of a child’s life.
“In late March, last year, 2016, I became a parent for the first time,” she said during her keynote presentation.
“I remember the indescribable – and as I understand it universal – experience of holding my week-old son and feeling my priorities change on a cellular level. I remember I experienced a shift in consciousness that gave me the ability to maintain my love of career and cherish something else, someone else, much, much more.
“Like so many parents, I wondered how I was going to balance my work with my new role as a parent, and in that moment, I remember that the statistic for the US’s policy on maternity leave flashed through my mind.”
The 34-year-old actress said it wasn’t until she had a child of her own, and “one week after my son’s birth I could barely walk…when I was dependent on my husband for most things” that she noticed the huge disparity in how the world views the leave entitlements of mothers and fathers.
“The deeper into the issue of paid parental leave I go, the clearer I see the connection between persisting barriers to women’s full equality and empowerment, and the need to redefine and in some cases, destigmatise men’s role as caregivers,” she said.
“In other words, to liberate women, we need to liberate men.”
Hathaway added that the stereotype of a woman as the one who looks after the home and the family is as damaging to men as it is to women.
“[It] limits men’s participation and connection within the family and society,” she said.
What’s your take? Do we need to make maternity and paternity leave equal?