Parental leave is the key to economic prosperity

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UN Women Executive Director Phumzile Mlambo Ngcuka participates in a high-level discussion on the issue of paid parental leave. Photo: UN Women/Ryan Brown

Today on the margins of the 72nd UN General Assembly, a high-level discussion hosted by the Nordic Council of Ministers under Norway’s Presidency and UN Women put the spotlight on the issue of paid parental leave. 

Women’s economic empowerment is a key pillar of sustainable development and growth. Yet, only about 50 per cent of working age women compared to 76 per cent of men are represented in the labour force globally today, and women take on 2.5 times more unpaid work than men. Unequal pay, disproportionate burden of unpaid care work, and lack of paid parental leave for women and men, are ultimately holding back women in the world of work. 

Paid parental leave is not only a matter of rights, but smart for the economy, the participants stressed. 

“Economic growth depends on optimal use of the workforce. Getting women back to work, affordable child care and paid parental leave makes it possible for both parents to go back to work,” said Børge Brende, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Norway, adding that gender equality has played a key role in Norway’s economic development.