National Assembly’s Standing Committee on Law and Justice, on Wednesday, unanimously approved the maternity and paternity leave bill, paving way for it to be tabled before the lower house of the Parliament for approval after it already sailed through the Senate. The bill now allows one-month paternity leave to fathers on the birth of their child.
As specified by the details, the bill titled Maternity and Paternity Leave Act 2018 was passed by the sub-committee. It approved six months’ leave for the mother as well as giving a one-month leave to the father on the birth of the first child.
While in the case of a second child, the mothers would get a four-month maternity leave while the fathers would avail the one-month leave on the birth of a child. In addition to this, the father will also get a one-month leave for their third child’s birth and the mother will get a three-month leave.
It is to be noted that the bill will be only applicable to public and private sector organizations of the federal capital territory Islamabad.
PPP MNA Shazia Atta Marri expressed her joy over the passage of the bill from the NA standing committee. She said that the bills passed after a year and a half’s hard work.
Taking to Twitter, the lawmaker from Sanghar said the bill was moved by Senator Quratulain Marri, her sister, a year ago.
However, for the provinces of Punjab, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP), and Balochistan, laws remain the same. Mothers are granted a maternity leave of 12 weeks under the laws. On the other hand, Sindh allows for a maternity leave of 16 weeks.
Is Pakistan moving towards being a gender-balanced society?
The Maternity and Paternity Leave Bill is a welcome development. It reminds us that the role of the law is to push society to think differently. Patriarchal notions of gender roles and relationships are entrenched in our society. The law aims to challenge these notions and push society to change their mindset.
Well, let’s face it- it is a moment for young parents to celebrate! Can you picture in your mind a father changing his newborn’s diaper? Staying up all night to look after the tiny little person that he is responsible for? Just imagine a change in perception around fatherhood.
Earlier in January this year, the Senate passed the maternity and paternity bill. It allowed three-months and six months paid leave to the employees of public and private organizations.
Tabled by Pakistan Peoples Party’s (PPP) Senator Quratulain Marri, the bill, also provides protection for workers who apply for maternity and paternity leaves. It ensures that those who apply for them cannot be terminated from their jobs.
The federal government, however, opposed the bill, saying that there was already a law to give 90-day maternity leave to female employees, while male government employees could avail 48-day leaves in a year.
Equality at home will achieve equality in society. The new bill can be a step in the right direction for the country’s development. Amen to that! In August, the government also introduced a program to pay stipends to mothers for two years after childbirth.
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