COFACE Celebrates the International Day of Families:
Maternity Leave Directive Raises Concerns
“Just at a time when families all around the globe are getting ready to celebrate the International Day of
Families, held under the theme of "Mothers and Families: Challenges in a Changing World", we hear the
news that the report on the maternity leave directive setting to improve both duration and payment
conditions for mothers got referred back to the Parliamentary committee!,” declared COFACE President,
Yves Roland-Gosselin, on Friday during the 16th edition of the International Day of Families.
COFACE, as did other European social NGO’s involved in the issue, said it was both surprised and
disappointed to see the directive blocked. Indeed, the event -considered as a political U-turn as far as
family policies are concerned- that took place last week during a plenary vote session at the European
Parliament could not happen at a worst time.
“This is definitely not a good signal we’re getting from Europe, a continent that claims to want to get closer
to its citizens, particularly when we’re only a few weeks away from the election of the European Parliament
by universal suffrage* ” added COFACE President.
The theme of the day reflects the profound changes undergone by modern families. Over the past decades
women, in particular, have seen their roles within the family unit change radically.
How to achieve work-life balance is still one of the key challenges modern mothers have to face on a daily
basis. Childcare services; maternity leave; parental leave; flexible working time arrangements; upgrading of
part-time work; gender equality etc… all are issues that need to be mainstreamed across all relevant
policies, both at national and EU level.
This is why COFACE is adamant in saying that reconciliation policies are key to any wider policy to tackle
and prevent poverty and social exclusion. These recommendations seem to be of specific relevance to
mothers when we are reminded that the majority of single parents are actually women.
COFACE would also like to reiterate that these work/family life balance measures must be flanked by
measures that promote and facilitate men’s role in the family, so that the balancing act is not just left
mainly to women, as it is still unfortunately the case today.