Oscar winner Anne Hathaway has returned to the workforce with a flourish after the birth of her first child one year ago. She captured the spotlight at the New York premiere of her new sci-fi film Colossal wearing a dramatic vintage black Armani Prive gown. She’s been talking up the ease of working with the female-led cast of Ocean’s Eight. Her remake of Dirty Rotten Scoundrels has landed a director.
The most significant item on Hathaway’s to-do list, however, is miles away from Hollywood glitz. After accepting the role of a U.N. Women Goodwill Ambassador, the actress/activist has become a voice advocating for paid parental leave. She exposes “mommy guilt” as nothing more than nonsense that deflects attention from society’s inadequate support systems by blaming women.
“When [my son] Johnny was a week old and I was holding him and I was in the ninth level of ecstasy, I just all of a sudden thought, ‘Mommy guilt is invented nonsense.’ We’re encouraged to judge each other, but we should be turning our focus to the people and institutions who should be supporting us and currently aren’t,” Hathaway says.
She recently delivered a speech to the United Nations and talked about the lack of paid parental leave in the United States. “I can’t believe we don’t already have it,” says Hathaway. With no current federal paid leave policy in the U.S., new parents meet a confusing array of options across a range of states. Some qualify for up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave through the Family Medical Leave Act.
Hathaway is drawing on her experience as a first-time parent with husband Adam Shulman to talk about the damage inflicted by traditional gender roles. “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 says.
“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.”
You can read more about “Paid Parental Leave in the United States: What the Data Tell Us About Access, Usage, and Economic and Health Benefits” here. The paper was written by The Institute for Women’s Policy Research (IWPR) as a part of a series of Scholars’ Papers sponsored by the U.S. Department of Labor Women’s Bureau.
You can watch Hathaway’s speech at the United Nations’ New York headquarters for International Women’s Day 2017 here.
P.S. She was wearing a red ADEAM dress to show solidarity with the Women’s Strike.