(Click the title to read the story in Kuensel by Sonam Pelden)
Working women in the Bhutanese govt. have always been entitled to 3 months of paid maternity leave which is pretty good given that even a country as advanced as the U.S, on an average, does not allow more than six weeks. (And whether this is paid or unpaid I am not sure.)
According to the Institute for Women's Policy Research in the United States, (http://www.iwpr.org/pdf/parentalleaveA131.pdf) the weeks vary according to the govt. agencies and companies. There are exceptions for instance some Private companies like Goldman Sachs offers 16 weeks for mothers and 4 weeks to fathers as paternity leave.
To the contrary, it was different for working women in private companies in Bhutan who had no benefits. Therefore, it was good to learn that women working in private companies there are now entitled to at least 2 months of paid maternity leave for up to 3 deliveries. This bridges the gap of unfair employment benefits for women whether working for the govt or private sector. An employer who does not follow this, according to the Director General of the Labor Department will be penalized.
It seems that this leave, of all benefits, was the most debated of all leaves and women's voices actually have been heard on this issue. In discussing this with another Bhutanese woman, however, we both agreed that while this is a great move, something needs to be done for the fathers too. As of now, working men are entitled to paid paternity leave for 5 working days for 3 deliveries only.
As the structure of nuclear families disintegrate and more and more couples, both husband and wife, are working, it is hard for women who have just delivered a baby to find help and assistance in the house. Without their husbands they are required to do much of the work around the home, this while nursing their child/children as well.
It might be more beneficial to the women if fathers were given at least 2/3 weeks of paid paternity leave too. This would not only help the father share responsibilities in the home, but it would also help fathers bond with their new born.