Posts Tagged ‘Maureen Dowd’

There is not much exhilarating going on in France these days, on the political and social fronts, to talk about.

Najat Vallaud-Belkacem (Photo Nouvel Observateur)

Najat Vallaud-Belkacem (Photo Nouvel Observateur)

There is however more than what Maureen Dowd wrote about yesterday in the New York Times, as to whether or not “Valérie (President François Hollande’s girlfriend) can seduce the French:” a bill on equality between men and women, proposed by the French Minister of Women’s Rights, Najat Vallaud-Belkacem.

Inequalities, among others in the work place, are real: a 33% difference in pensions, a 19% wage gap in the private sector in favor of men. The law has the ambition to approach the problem of gender inequalities in a comprehensive way: in the political sphere, in the work place, and at home. For instance, the law will mandate a quota of 20% -to be brought to 40% in the board of corporations of more than 250 employees, to help break the glass ceiling. The allowance for parental leave – 572.81 Euros per month- has been extended to six months for families with one child, to the third birthday of the youngest child for a family with two or more children. Vallaud-Belkacem kind of agrees, in an interview she gave to Sylvain Courage and Elsa Vigoureux from the Nouvel Observateur, that this allowance is a pittance by European standards. She counts on the increase in the number of employees in day nurseries “to change mentalities,” and to give men incentives to take parental leaves.

That’s in  gauging the change in mentalities that Vallaud-Belkacem and the French government flatly fail. There have been divorced fathers on cranes in France, asking for the rights to live with their children as much as their ex do. Evidently, Vallaud-Belkacem has not noticed them.  The law does not  touch on gender inequality in parental rights after divorce. That’s, sadly, a missed opportunity.

Hat Tip: Véronique Rouquier

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Some parental rights activists are rejoicing. Psychology professor Gordon Finley, from Florida international University,

2001 A Space Odyssey (Stanley Kubrick)

2001 A Space Odyssey (Stanley Kubrick)

has investigated the State of Fatherhood across a sample of some 2,000 young adults and found that yes, fathers are useful. They do more than bringing the bacon at the table. Children with fathers have less risky sexual behavior and, guess what, girls need their dads.

These results don’t make me happy.  Actually, they make me cry. Not that there is nothing wrong with proving the obvious; but while Professor Finley was busy refuting Maureen Dowd’s insinuation that men are useless, family laws in this country were going down the drain, separating children from their fathers, and reducing fathers to child support providers. A huge, irreparable waste of broken lives. But law makers and family courts had an excuse though: they did not know that fathers were useful. Oops!

It is quite strange that in family values country, such damages to families have occurred.  How could they have been  avoided? Perhaps by caring for human rights; children’s for instance.  Since  1989, there is a  UN convention of the rights of children, which among others, states that “States Parties shall respect the right of the child who is separated from one or both parents to maintain personal relations and direct contact with both parents on a regular basis, except if it is contrary to the child’s best interests (article 9, paragraph 1). Going through the convention, one discovers, interestingly enough, that children rights and parents rights – that of useless- or- not fathers included- are intertwined. If you alienate fathers rights, you also alienate children’s.

One of the big absent among the signatories: the US. Let’s dream. Now that the lawmakers know that fathers are useful, that might change. Also, fathers might even see the introduction of shared parenting into family laws.

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