Making Italian dads stay home

This quote from Anne Manne’s thought-provoking article, “Children’s Lib: Elisabeth Badinter’s ‘The Conflict: Woman and Mother’” (thanks blue milk), reminded me of some news I’ve been meaning to share:

Anna Wahl, from the Stockholm School of Economics, argues that Swedish paternity leave, which cannot be transferred to the mother, “moves the norm a little … It creates pressure on young men; now they have to explain why they’re not going to be at home … It’s not just anyone taking care of the child; it’s the father. It says he is irreplaceable.”

Italy’s Labour Minister Elsa Fornero said something similar upon the announcement of Prime Minister Mario Monti’s new controversial labour reform, which was approved by Italy’s cabinet last Friday and includes mandatory paternity leave:

It’s a way to change mentality: maternity is not just for women. We need to reconcile our time at work with family time.

The reform still needs to be presented to parliament and will probably be modified, but it’s another reason to hope things are turning around for the better in this post Berlusconi era.