Alas the dilemma of being working women and childbirth rears its head again today -- after French Justice Minister Rachida Dati returned to work five days after having her Cesarean section. This raises many dilemmas for me. I'm caught between relating to her professional responsibility (it was not just any meeting she returned to but the first Cabinet meeting of the year with a focus on the justice agenda) and feeling that she is somehow undermining her commitment to family and the precious time which we never have with our newborns again -- but often don't realize until it is too late. Women's groups in France, accustomed to more paid maternity leave than here (of course!), are upset, and in many ways I agree. If she only needs to take off five days, what does this signal to other employers about what is needed by women to care for their newborns and own physical and mental health?
Like most issues dealing with the work/family balance, I find it to be a personal decision -- unique for each woman, family and child. And employer. But I know the reality is that our society still undervalues women who choose to stay at home longer. And if most of us were given the choice of more paid maternity leave, we'd readily volunteer.
Photo courtesy of Reuters.