The paternity leave legislation was signed into law in the UK on December 1, 2014 – just a few days ago – and as of that day, it became a statutory obligation for employers. Meaning that if a man’s wife puts to bed, he is entitled to leave with pay so that he can help with the baby and make it easier for the wife to return to work. So are the men in UK leaping for joy at this wonderful opportunity to be supportive husbands? Er, no. In a survey that was carried out the same day the paternity leave became law, a high percentage of men said they would take only the minimum time allowed. So if they can take up to 6 months off, but were obliged by law to take at least 6 weeks, they would only take the 6 weeks.
This has come as a surprise mostly because the leave is with pay. It is clear that this is not about losing money as they will still be earning an income during the time of the paternity leave. Rather, it seems that for a lot of men, their identities as men might be tied to their going out each day to work. A number of men surveyed believed that paternity leave was not necessary.
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This got us thinking about Nigerian men and whether they could stay home changing diapers while their wives went to work. Just thinking of made us smile. Recently on the Naija Housewives’ Facebook page, we asked the one thing women would like to see their husbands do more of, and some women said they would like their men to do some house chores while others mentioned their desire for the men to be around more often.
It is difficult to imagine a Nigerian man taking paternity leave to just be with his wife and baby or even staying home while his wife goes to work. The societal pressures would be just too much to handle. It is not that there are not Nigerian men who are domesticated and help their wives, they do exist.
We are making lots of strides, but our society is still a patriarchy and very much chauvinistic in it’s make up. We find it interesting that when it comes down to the core, British men are not so different from Nigerian men. If a similar survey is carried out in Nigeria, the results might not be too different. But let’s leave generalities alone… can your husband be a stay at home father?