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Economic Opportunities for Women in the East Asia and Pacific Region

score (2), which indicates that it scores poorly on at least two of the measures outlined above. One country not covered by the index is Mongolia, where, as mentioned above, government cutbacks in social services, including preschools and kindergartens, has increased the child care burden on women (ADB and World Bank 2005). Maternity leave benefits. Maternity leave also influences the extent to which women can balance their reproductive and work roles, as both employers and employees. There are three principal policy issues to consider with respect to maternity leave provisions: • Legislated provision for universal coverage: The legal right to a minimum length of maternity leave and the prohibition of discrimination or dismissal on pregnancy-related grounds along with universal coverage for all employed women • Cash benefit: The provision of a minimum level of income benefits during leave • Financing: A mechanism for financing maternity leave entitlements in a way that minimizes the direct cost impact on employers, as opposed to a financing mandate on employers that creates a disincentive against hiring younger female workers because of the potential additional cost burden ILO Convention 183, adopted in 2000, stipulates that signatories provide at least 14 weeks of paid leave and that the cash benefit should be equivalent to at least two-thirds of a woman’s previous earnings. It recommends that benefits be provided through “compulsory social insurance” or “public funds” (Article 6[8]). Employers are not meant to be individually liable for direct costs unless national law provided for it before adoption of the Convention or if it is subsequently agreed on by government and employer and employee representative organizations. Figure 2.15 shows the performance of economies on maternity leave provisioning in legal frameworks and employment regulation. The range of maternity leave provisions varies considerably across the region on three dimensions: duration of minimum leave (as legislation provides), amount of maternity benefits, and the financing of benefits (if any), as detailed in table 2.3. Australia is one of the world’s few developed countries that lacks legislated paid maternity leave (along with Lesotho, Papua New Guinea, Swaziland, and the United States).7 On the other end of the scale, Vietnam makes generous provisions for mothers—including 100 percent of wages for days in prenatal care and childbirth; 120 days’ paid leave (150 days if

Economic Opportunities for Women in the East Asia and Pacific Region  

The East Asia and Pacific region has made great progress, relative to other regions, with regard to both economic development and, specifica...