Published online by Cambridge University Press: 23 December 2014
The attempt to secure maternity rights has been a major focus of decades of campaigning for women's equality. However, it is of concern that maternity rights might reinforce women's responsibility for childcare. This paper considers how we bring men back into the frame, through a critical assessment of the contrasting approaches in Europe and the US to claims by fathers for parenting rights. It is argued that the goal of equal participation of women in the workplace needs to be matched by equal participation of men in the home. This is only possible if the conception of equality is shaped by a conscious and explicit commitment to the social value of parenthood. Substantive equality can only be genuinely furthered if pregnancy and parenthood are appropriately distinguished. Whereas pregnancy is unique and should be treated as such, a true application of substantive equality requires a ‘levelling up’ option, extending women's parenting rights to fathers.
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