The world is finally acknowledging women at work and their struggles. In a revolutionary move, New Zealand has joined India to pass a miscarriage bereavement leave law. New Zealand’s parliament or ‘Beehive’ bore witness to the passing of this law, which would give a three-day leave to mothers and their partners whose pregnancy ends with a stillborn. This bereavement bill does not apply to abortions.
Currently, only one other country has a provision of such a law which is India, where women are allowed to take up to six weeks of leave after a miscarriage.
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“The passing of this bill shows that once again New Zealand is leading the way for progressive and compassionate legislation, becoming only the second country in the world to provide leave for miscarriage and stillbirth,”- a statement made by Labour Party MP Ginny Andersen.
Under PM Jacinda Arden’s government, New Zealand is seeing a number of revolutionary steps towards women’s empowerment. Last year, New Zealand decriminalized abortion following months of protests. New Zealand was also the first country in the world to give voting rights to women and has been a pioneer on issues around woman’s rights.
That silence that has caused so much harm has, in part, started to be broken by this debate and by parliament’s attention,” Logie said.
She said that one in four New Zealand women have had a miscarriage, and around 20,000 women lose a pregnancy through miscarriage or stillbirth every year.
“It is an incredibly normal experience, but normal doesn’t mean easy; it doesn’t mean without pain. But we have for a long time, through silence and stigma, forced women – primarily women – into actually just pretending as if it hasn’t happened.”
The bill does not apply to women who end a pregnancy through abortion. National MP Erica Stanford said that while she supported the bill, “the grief and anguish and trauma experienced during an abortion and the fact that it’s not included in this bill make me uncomfortable – personally uncomfortable”
Health advocates have praised this legislation, terming it as a way for more open discussion around miscarriage and painful experiences and getting rid of this taboo.
“The grief that comes with miscarriage is not a sickness — it is a loss,” Andersen said while presenting the bill, she added, “That loss takes time. Time to recover physically and time to recover mentally. Time to recover with a partner, because often, the mother is not alone in her grief.”
According to Ms Andersen, One in four New Zealand women have had a miscarriage. While many have praised this law, some have expressed concerns over the low number of days allowed as bereavement leave.