There are a lot of organisations for mums and a growing raft of groups for dads, but a new forum aims to bring mums and dads together for the first time in an effort to promote shared parenting.
WorkCareShare has been set up by mum and dad campaigners to promote equal opportunities for women and men at work and at home through a focus on leave entitlements for mothers and fathers with babies and young children. The aim is to build a wider alliance with gender equality organisations, unions, human resources departments and family/child welfare services – and with mothers and fathers who believe in and want more equal opportunity.
WorkCareShare’s website says: “Leave entitlements in UK do not facilitate the substantial sharing of care between women and men in the first years after a baby is born. The Government’s prediction for the uptake of the shared leave arrangements currently being introduced is 4%.” Sweden has 88% uptake of shared leave; Portugal has 69% take-up; Germany 32% and the UK 2%, which is predicted to double to 4%.
The website adds: “Three times in the last 20 years leave entitlements have been debated; each time arguments in favour of effective support for sharing have been defeated behind closed doors. Next time we want to win the argument through a full and public debate, like equality campaigners have done in other countries.”
The website includes a regularly updated blog which seeks to counter arguments against sharing, for instance, that it is bad for business or bad for breastfeeding women, and push for change. Its founding members are family campaigner Duncan Fisher, full-time working mother Nathalie Casali, dad blogger John Adams, gender equality campaigner Tim Porteous, Mandy Garner, editor of Workingmums.co.uk, and Jeszemma Garratt, Practice Manager of the Fatherhood Institute.
One of its first blogs is a response to a newspaper article which argues that young children need an unbroken and exclusive relationship with their mother.
Duncan Fisher says: “The brilliance of human parenting is that it is a group “village” activity. Indeed anthropologists argue that this type of parenting is one of the reasons we came out of trees and spread across the globe.”
Nathalie Casali adds: “Against the background of a rapidly shrinking working age population burdened with caring for a rapidly expanding elderly population, encouraging half the workforce to stay inside the home through a state funded caring wage is nothing less than fiscal suicide.”
The organisation is looking for allies who feel passionately about the subject and organisations that want to see greater gender equality.
*If you want to join WorkCareShare, click here.