Negotiations at the Public Service Bargaining Council have revealed that male civil servants are not entitled to paternity leave, and stakeholders, particularly workers have called for the introduction of such.
In negotiating their working conditions, civil servants also suggested that the leave should be at least two weeks long, and cover three births for both married and unmarried men.
We have taken too long to introduce paternity leave and things should move faster in the right direction to boost the huge strides our country has made in the area of gender equality.
Our achievements on the gender equality front can be witnessed in women holding positions of power and influence, equal opportunities for the girl and boy child and in employment.
We now have women engineers, pilots, and even combi drivers.
However, due to cultural barriers, men still suffer certain prejudices that women are spared. For instance, a man who loses his job is more at risk of divorce than his female counterpart.
This is why technocrats, and legislators did not see it important to come up with a law, or policy, that will entitle men to paternity leave to give support to their spouses at the time of birth.
It is therefore inspiring that this issue was raised at the Public Service Bargaining Council and will become a national topic for discussion, and ultimately drafted as a policy or law.
We are hopeful that when that time comes, the policy, or law, will apply to the private sector. In fact, it should be sped up if we are indeed committed to gender equality.
Like representatives of civil servants rightly said, it will also promote family bonding and population growth.
With an average 1,500 marriages dissolved by our courts every year, adopting the proposal could help the nation remedy the situation to save the institution of marriage.
It should also be noted that studies conducted beyond our borders have shown that a man who witnesses his wife giving birth is more likely to stick by her than the one who has never witnessed that important event.
We take this opportunity to urge our legislators to support this very important proposal to strengthen the family unit in Botswana.
“The family is the first essential
cell of human society.”
-Pope John XXIII