2023 Scholarship Recipient

My mother has always been there for me. She’s always been there to encourage and support me in everything I do. Way before I was born, back when she was pregnant with my older sister, her first child, she used to work for a company. Her boss wasn’t always the nicest to her because he didn’t like that he had to comply with new regulations to protect pregnant women because they didn’t know what could be harmful for her. Her boss didn’t like that and tried to get her fired or in trouble for it but she persisted. After that, she gave birth to my sister and decided to quit because she was worried about how her job would react with her needing to take time off and figured that it would be easier in the long run. In the end, it was easier because she had 5 of us and I’m not sure how most jobs would react to having to take that much time off every 2 years or so for about 10 years. I sometimes wonder though if her company had better maternity leave and protections for pregnant women if she would’ve stuck around. She said that she really liked her job and wished she could go back. This story got me thinking about maternity leave for women nowadays. Surely it must be better than it was back then?

I found out that that isn’t the case. My sister was born a couple of years after the Family Medical Leave Act came out and that is pretty much it for protections for women. It’s been 30 years and most other countries have updated their maternity leave. In most European countries, they get at least a year for the mother and then the father gets 6 months. In countries like Sweden and Denmark, they get 52 weeks and after that they get partially subsidized daycare to help the parents go back to work. IN the US, we get only 12 weeks and you have to be eligible for it. You have to be at a large enough company, you have to have worked at that place for long enough and you also only get 12 weeks for both partners. The father can’t stay at home while the mother is home. It’s also unpaid maternity leave so if the mother’s income is needed to keep the household stable then she will be right back to work as quickly as she can. There are many things needed to do to try to fix this issue.

Some things that we could do is try to petition the government to get a new law passed. If the government mandated it that all companies need to do it, that they would need to pay part of a woman's salary or even if they increase the time to 6 months and 3 months for the father. That would be a step in the right direction to try to help women more with their careers and having higher paying jobs. We could also try to talk to companies themselves to see if they would be willing to try to increase the time of maternity leave. If more people protested over it, a company and the government would be more willing to fix it. We could also try to start organizations that could help women when it comes time for them to go back to work like maybe having free daycare, helping pay for some of the new necessities needed for a baby so that maybe the woman could stay out of work for longer. Mostly the burden falls on companies and the government to try to fix it.

Most people wouldn’t think this is a big issue, but as a woman going into the workforce in the next couple of years, I would like to know my job is safe if I have a kid. I want to know that I could be both a mother and a worker. I could juggle the two if they were more time for me to spend at home with my kid and help them with their life.

Phillip Mathangani Foundation, a 501(c)(3) non-profit.
EIN: 46-5338870 | ©2024