Update on the work of UN-GLOBE to push for inclusive parental leave policies in the UN system
As you know, UN-GLOBE issued in August guiding principles and proposals for inclusive parental leave policies.
We asked that all parental leave policies in the UN system focus on the needs of the child. No distinction should be made between a child who has been adopted, a child who was born through surrogacy, or a child born from a staff member. All children deserve equal parental leave time with their parents.
We also asked that all parental leave policies be gender-neutral. Policies should not grant 16 weeks to mothers, while only granting 4 weeks to fathers. This only reinforces old-fashioned and gendered ideas that mothers should stay home taking care of babies while fathers should go out and work. Parenting is the equal responsibility of both parents, and UN policies should reflect this.
We also asked in our proposals that 8 weeks of Special Leave with Pay be an option, in addition to 16 weeks of parental leave time, for all parents, male or female. We did this to ensure that staff members who have given birth, or staff members who have children with disabilities can have the time they need to ensure the well-being of their families.
Since sending our parental leave policy to all organizations of the UN system, we have seen a very positive response.
We have met with the Directors of Human Resources at UNDP, UN Women, and WHO. And we have met with the staff federations CCISUA, and FICSA; and with individual staff unions.
The responses have been positive and supportive, but tentative.
This type of response is to be expected. It was never my expectation that change in the UN system would happen right away.
What we have done, however, is to present a vision of how things should be, and of where we would like to be.
And we have managed to change the conversation.
As long as we can secure the agreement of UN agencies and staff unions that our vision is the end goal we all want to strive for, as long as we can engender enthusiasm, then we would have taken a big step forward.
Hyung Hak Nam (Alfonso)