Anne Hathaway has never been afraid to speak her mind.
Yesterday, Hathaway took a strong stance against U.S. parental leave policies in a speech she delivered to the United Nations. Not a bad way to spend International Women's Day. Not bad at all. The best part? She was advocating for men too. See? This is feminism — we want everyone to succeed.
“Somehow we and every American parent were expected to be back to normal in under three months without income,” she said. “I remember thinking to myself, ‘If the practical reality of pregnancy is another mouth to feed in your home and America is a country where most people are living paycheck to paycheck, how does 12 weeks of unpaid leave economically work?’ The truth is for too many people it doesn’t.”
We wish more celebrities would use their fame to amplify issues that affect families in detrimental ways. Go, Anne!
So how bad is parental leave in the U.S.? Pretty appalling compared to much of the rest of the world. Currently, U.S. law insists that women receive 12 weeks of unpaid leave (did you catch that "unpaid" part?). Paid leave? Dream on — there's no mandate for such a thing in America. In fact, even though some progressive companies offer it, only 14 percent of Americans have any kind of paid family leave. And if you're a low-income worker, your chances of paid family leave dwindle to almost nothing, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Men also find themselves on the short end of the stick — with most employers still only recognizing the need for mothers, not fathers, to take time off for family reasons like illness or a new child.
“The assumption and common practice that women and girls look after the home and the family is a stubborn and very real stereotype that not only discriminates against women, but limits men’s participation and connection within the family and society," Hathaway said.
Now a U.N. goodwill ambassador, she believes this situation is completely untenable for most families. She spoke about her own family's experiences:
“My mother had to choose between a career and raising three children, a choice that left her unpaid and underappreciated as a homemaker because there just wasn’t support for both paths,” she said.
Hathaway's father was the family’s sole earner — meaning she rarely saw him growing up.
“How many of us here today saw our dads enough growing up?” she asked at the United Nations. “How many of you dads here see your kids enough now? We need to help each other if we are going to go grow.”