“If you want women in the workforce, you must invest in care,” said Sharan Burrow, General Secretary of the International Trade Union Confederation, citing research that shows, “two percent of investment in care in any economy will generate six percent growth in the economy.”
“In Norway, we started back in the 80-s…to give paid parental leave for a full year. The female workforce participation has gone up from mid-40 percent to mid-70 percent,” shared Kristin Skogen Lund, Director General of the Confederation of Norwegian Enterprise.
Beyond paid parental leave, participants also drew attention to the provision of childcare that is affordable to all families. “It is important to understand that affordable child care is a basic security that makes people more flexible in the labour force,” said Dagfinn Høybråten, Secretary General of the Nordic Council of Ministers.
UN Women Executive Director Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka stressed on the need to remove motherhood penalty, which manifests in the form of unequal pay, perceived incompetence and slower career growth among working mothers: “When men have more children, they get rewarded with more money. When women have more children, they get penalized.”
“The information is not reaching enough policy-makers…” she added, “public policies have to care and create enabling the environment for employers.”
Isa Notermans, Global Head of Diversity and Inclusion from Spotify, shared her own experience of taking six months of parental leave and how it benefited her and encouraged other women in the business to take the full parental leave. “In countries where it’s not a norm yet, we have to share the stories of success,” she said.
The discussion also highlighted the importance of regulations and legislation as a starting point in changing cultural norms and behaviours around the equal participation of men and women in care work at home.