Refined and Fly

Tuesday, April 17, 2007


Peace! As I was sitting at Monroe's waiting for my oil change, I started checking out a magazine called "Working Mother." Now although this of course isn't their tag line, flipping through the pages, it seems to be a mag targeting working corporate mid to upperclass white mothers. However, taking knowledge for knowledge and not discouraging it on face value, I found a lot of jewels in it and will probably subscribe. There are many topics covered that working mothers or women preparing to be mothers of any ethnicity, socioeconomic status, or background can use. This specific issue (October 2006) covers lots of topics such as preparing an organized morning routine, the 100 best companies that are family friendly, school lunches, arts and crafts, entrepreneurial moms, and health. One story I found particularly interesting (obviously, I indefinitely borrowed the mag) was the "Global Snapshot: Parent Perks Around the World," focusing on different countrys' work/ life benefits. Many of these countries may have other structural issues, but when it comes to balancing family and work, they seem to take a family-centered approach that assists with maintaining the balance of work and home, and frankly, puts the U.S. to shame. Do the knowledge:

Self-employed workers who register with national Social Security and health insurance plans recieve free maternity care and discounts on dental visits and eye exams. Almost 85% of the participants in this program are women.

Named a top country for working women by the World Economic Forum, Sweden offers a generous family leave policy-up to 18 months off at partial pay-and parents can work reduced hours until their children are 8. Under the "leisure time care" program, children recieve before-and afterschool care until age 12, with sliding scale fees.

In this driven corporate culture, all employees are granted flexible schedules-shorter hours, flextime or overtime exemption-for the first 2 years of parenthood. Large firms, those with more than 300 employees, must provide childcare options, such as on-site centers or temporary leaves.

Mothers here recieve free hospitalization and a "maternity grant" of 20% of their montyhly wage to purchase supplies for their newborn.

This West AFrican nation gives mothers protection from being fired for any reason upon return from maternity leave. Like its neighbor, Mali, Senegal offers an impressive 15 months of secured job leave.

New mothers are entitled to 14 weeks of paid leave, and single moms can take off as much as six months with pay before and after childbirth, depending on their income. They also recieve a small cash stipend, based on earnings, for three months before and after having their child.

Moms and dads in this small Balkan nation recieve 365 days of fully paid family leave that they can use anytime before their child's eighth birthday.

After a 16-week long paid maternity leave, mothers can enroll their babies in home based care or at full-day care centers at little or no cost until age 3, when they enter subsidized pre-school.

Child care here is a constitutional right. Workers are entitled to free employer-provided day care until children reach age 4.

*Reprinted from pp76-78 of "Working Mothers Magazine" (October 2006 issue)


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