Women's History Month

Anne Hathaway's Speech On Parental Leave Was A Powerful Reminder Of How Strict Gender Roles Affect Policy

On a day when women from more than 40 countries went on strike, her speech took on increased significance.

On International Women's Day, Anne Hathaway took her fight for parental leave to the United Nations headquarters in New York, delivering the keynote address at a U.N. Women's conference. In her role as Global Goodwill Ambassador, Hathaway shone a light on the importance of parental leave, and made a special call-out to the United States as the only developed nation in the world that doesn't mandate paid maternity leave, let alone parental leave. 

Hathaway stressed the importance of throwing out gender roles in society's approach to parenting. "The assumption and common practice that women and girls look after the home and the family is a stubborn and very real stereotype that not only discriminates against women, but limits men's participation and connection with the family," Hathaway said.

"The deeper into the issue of paid parental leave I go, the clearer I see the connection between persisting barriers to women's full equality and empowerment, and the need to redefine, and in some cases, de-stigmatize men's role as caregivers. In other words, to liberate women, we need to liberate men."

Many lauded Hathaway's speech on social media, and it took on an added significance this International Women's Day, as women from more than 40 countries went on strike to emphasize their economic impact. 

The U.S. lags far behind in terms of paid parental leave, with large corporations often left to picking up the slack.

In her speech, Hathaway highlighted policies' need to catch up to speed on the diversity of modern families. She told the audience: 

The whole world grows when people like you and me take a stand because we know that beyond the idea of how men and women are different, there is a deeper truth that love is love, and parents are parents.

Cover image via JStone / Shutterstock.com

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