Map of the Day: The state of maternity leave around the world

Ah, nothing like a map of worldwide maternity leave to remind you how little the US–for all its “family values” rhetoric–actually cares about working families.

maternity leave map

Click here for larger version and here to hover over each country.

As this interactive feature from NPR shows, the US is not just the only developed nation that doesn’t guarantee at least some paid maternity leave, it’s one of the only countries, period. We’re behind some 177 countries on this issue. 

NPR’s map is focused on maternity leave policies because paternity leave policies are harder to pin down. They note, “In some cases, fathers can tap into the same benefits that mothers get; in other cases they have time specifically dedicated to them; and in many countries, fathers don’t have any time allotted to them at all.” The great parental leave policies in Australia and Sweden seem like utopian dreams in the US.

They shouldn’t. In theory, feminists and “family values” conservatives should be able to unite on this issue. (Fox New’s Megyn Kelly is on the right side at least.) And some states are slowly but surely moving in the right direction–though it still looks pretty bad out there. Still, Sharon Lerner recently suggested that we might be able to pass a national paid leave law by 2019. Here’s hoping.

Update: Just noticed this map was posted while ago, but still–we should be talking about the sad state of US maternity leave all the time until it changes!

St. Paul, MN

Maya Dusenbery is executive director in charge of editorial at Feministing. She is the author of the forthcoming book Doing Harm: The Truth About How Bad Medicine and Lazy Science Leave Women Dismissed, Misdiagnosed, and Sick (HarperOne, March 2018). She has been a fellow at Mother Jones magazine and a columnist at Pacific Standard magazine. Her work has appeared in publications like,, Bitch Magazine, as well as the anthology The Feminist Utopia Project. Before become a full-time journalist, she worked at the National Institute for Reproductive Health. A Minnesota native, she received her B.A. from Carleton College in 2008. After living in Brooklyn, Oakland, and Atlanta, she is currently based in the Twin Cities.

Maya Dusenbery is an executive director of Feministing and author of the forthcoming book Doing Harm on sexism in medicine.

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