Newborn Struggles

In society it has become the norm for a woman to take leave after a baby is born. This is not only because of the recovery time period, but to also strengthen the bond between a mother and a child and also look after the child when it still relies on breast milk. Many factors lead up to why it’s become so mainstream today, but many problems are still being pushed under the rug.

In the USA there is no federal law that enforces paid maternity leave. Only 8% of women in the US have absolute certainty that they will have paid leave because only 4 states have made it mandatory. On top of this it is estimated only 16% of private industry workers receive paid leave. It can be argued that it would cost the economy a lot of money to make it a law, but it should be said that the US is a nation that spent nearly 720 billion dollars on their military. 

Abortion right’s in the US are changing as well. For the worse. In 1973 a legal precedent was put in place, Roe v Wade. This meant that the supreme court was protecting a woman’s right to have an abortion without heavy government restrictions. In 2016 Donald Trump had stated that he would overturn Roe v Wade. While it is unlikely that this will happen, it is very possible that roadblocks will be put in place to make it harder to get an abortion. Combined with the lack of paid leave, this means that a woman has an 84% chance of not being paid for a number of weeks at time if she becomes pregnant.

Parental rights don’t just stop at the woman though. I had put up a poll on my social media asking whether or not people have seen a changing table for babies in a male restroom. The results were shocking to say the least, 79% of the boys that voted, the majority being in New Zealand, had said they’d never seen one. Of course this is not entirely accurate data as it may be a perception issue, but many followed up on the poll and asked what a changing table even was. There is definitely a lack in support for male parents. 

Funnily enough, although seeing a changing table in a female restroom is very common, the facility isn’t always available either. A US law signed in 2016 made it mandatory for every federal building to have changing stations accessible to both males and females. This is a step in the right direction, but it also means that many public places still don’t have changing stations. Many baby changing horror stories have come out, lots of people resorting to cleaning up their kids on toilet seats, restroom floors and sink counters. This is just not acceptable and frankly a nuisance for parents, caregivers or even grandparents who are taking their kids on a public outing.  

There are so many simple problems in today’s world that can be fixed very easily. Small issues can have very large impacts on a person’s life and so it is a matter that needs to be solved. The US is a powerful country. No doubt about it, but the faults surrounding newborn babies and their care is an issue that needs to be addressed.

I’m a 14 year old girl based in Auckland, New Zealand. I have lived here my entire life and this has exposed me to a world of feminism early on. New Zealand is a very powerful country in terms of gender equality, with currently two women at the top of the political world. From a young age I have been taught that I could do anything if I put my mind to including predominantly male activities and careers, it had struck me bizarre that other girls my age across the world weren’t told the same things as me. Through SHEQUALITY I hope that girls and boys alike can learn that they are able to achieve anything if they try, that gender stereotypes should not be an excuse to stop pursuing their dreams.

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