Vibhuti [at the twitter handle @victorvibhu ] tweeted me a question about the ongoing discussion on paid menstrual leave for women. Did I support it? And I said no, because it would further increase the gender pay gap. Vibhuti thought I needed to explain that a bit more, so here is what I mean.
The difference in pay between employed men and women is a major cause of gender inequity in almost all countries. The Norwegian government found that even when women were equally or more qualified, performed as well, and got equal pay, there still was a gender pay gap. They found this was because women took maternity leave and men did not.
Then the Norwegian government pushed for legislation on paternity leave, and campaigned vigorously for men to participate equally in the raising of their children. This was Norway’s pappapermisjon. Now when a couple has a child in Norway, the parents divide up the 46-week fully paid parental leave. 90% of fathers take at least 12 of those weeks taking care of their newborns, and this is because this is the time quota of the joint paternal leave earmarked only for fathers.
As a result, today Norway has the least gender pay gap and is followed by Denmark and Sweden – the other countries that also have shared parental leave.
I feel if women start pushing for menstrual leave, it will further increase the gender pay gap. While some countries have been able to undo the negative impact of maternity leave on pay gap by pushing for paternity leave, there would be no male equivalent for menstrual leave. (more…)