Jo celebrates anniversary of shared parental leave with dads and babies

It’s 4 years today since one of the best achievements of the Lib Dems in Government started – the right of parents to decide between themselves who takes leave when they have a baby.

Jo Swinson was the minister who made it happen and in a cracking thread on Twitter with some fantastic GIFs, she celebrates the anniversary.

She recorded this video:

Yesterday, Jo was on Victoria Derbyshire.

Vanessa Pine was Jo’s special adviser at the time. She helped put the system together. She’s written about how important it is to change the culture to make sure that more dads can take up shared parental leave.

She introduced the concept of “mumsplaining” as an example of what needs to change:

Those battling for greater gender equality at work will be familiar with the challenges of ‘mansplaining’ but are we equally as conscious of the biases we hold when it comes to men doing childcare?

Nick describes his experience of being a man in the female dominated world “you’re something exotic, like a penguin, you walk in and everyone looks at you, like you’re interesting but somewhat out of place…. A woman on the bus told me that I needed to pick up my son because he was grizzling, I explained that he really was fine just tired from a long day. I knew what he needed, she didn’t even know his name. She was only placated when another woman took my side and said – no he’s right.”

Han-Son, whose son is now four and a half, agreed “There is a cultural change happening; we’re re-evaluating what it means to be a man, changing the shape of masculinity. We’re acknowledging men want to give back to their children, but that change still needs a turbo blast.”

Maybe once we are used to seeing more men look after their babies, we’ll have less of this attitude:

James, whose daughters are 8 and 11, went further “when I went part time to look after my kids it was quite a shock for people. I was surprised by how surprising they found it. I was a “hero dad” giving up my career and showing I cared. But none of them had batted an eyelid when my wife had gone part time previously.”

Have you taken advantage of shared parental leave? Why not write for us and tell us how it went for you?

* Caron Lindsay is Editor of Liberal Democrat Voice and blogs at Caron's Musings

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