SOCIETY
Why should we invest in children?
23 July, 2018
The children are our future. We all probably agree with this, to some extent. It is a cliché but yet a crucially important reminder that our future lies in the hands of our children. In this article a number of questions are raised, for instance, what are parents doing to ensure that their children reach their full potential and contribute to
a better world? Also,what are policy makers and politicians are doing to ensure delivering effective social policies?

Parenthood comes with a great responsibility and it is something that the Georgian parents may not have quite appreciated before having children. Georgian young potential parents are not taught how to be parents or to manage and deal with the number of responsibilities that family life brings. As a result the reality of parenthood can be something of a shock to the system.
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Prince George attending his first day of school, Photo courtesy: www.royal.uk

Based on my observation, parents and children are alienated in Georgian society. Amidst a busy life parents sometimes forget to connect and focus on their children. Parents should be encouraged parents and more awareness raised generally among the population that despite heavy obligations of work and earning a living it is important that they try and devote quality time to their children whether it be by talking to them or going on family outings and activities so as to produce more family cohesion and to make and emotional connection, thus contributing to a stronger and happier and affluent society.

Social problems are always systematic. One of the reasons why parents do not spend quality time with their children and lack emotional connection in Georgia is an issue that is deeply rooted in an unfriendly family policy.

According to the Labour Code of Georgia, Chapter VI, Articles 27-29, Order #01-43/N (which was last amended in June 2017) by the President of Georgia, mothers employed by government institutions were allowed to take 730 days maternity leave of which only 183 calendar days would be paid. The maternity allowance only one time to be given to mothers during this period would be 600 GEL (roughly 280 euros). In cases of complications during the childbirth or having twins mothers are entitled to take 200 calendar days of maternity leave and a maximum of 1000 GEL (equivalent of roughly 300 euros) as a onetime incidental allowance. The amount of the Maternity payment can vary by agreement between the two parties, employer and employee.
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Family time, Photo courtesy: www.en-tribu.com

Article 28 entitles mothers to 550 calendar days of leave in the case of adopting a newborn (under the age one). They are also entitled to receive an adoption allowance up to a maximum of 1000 GEL which is paid for a period 90 days.

In Norway both parents are eligible for parental benefit if they have been employed and had a pensionable income for the last 6 of the 10 months prior to the start of the parental benefit period. In the gender-neutral and egalitarian society such as Norway parental leave is a normal part of life.
Fathers also have an obligation in the upbringing of their child. After every birth, both parents benefit from a two-week leave and then divide up the 46-week parental leave paid at 100%, or alternatively, 56 weeks paid at 80%. A Child in Norway spends their first year with both of their parents. To encourage men to take care of their children, a special 10-week quota is reserved for them. If they are reluctant to take parental leave, they lose the 10 weeks Use-it-or-lose it paternityleave is a commonly used scheme in Scandinavia. This time cannot be transferred to the mother. As a result, in Norway 90% of fathers take at least 12 weeks paternity leave. Norway used to be a society where the distribution of roles was clear-cut, but the family oriented social policy forced more fathers to take part in raising their children. (Retrieved from www.nav.no)

As we compare the legislations and policies of these two countries, it is easy to see that the Georgian Labour Code does not place any importance on paternal leave and the shared parental responsibility. A father’s contribution to a child’s upbringing process is extremely important. However this is not presently reflected in the approach of Georgian society to a father’s entitlement to paternity leave. Most of the time women working in the public sector prefer taking a shorter parental leave period than they are entitled to under the Labour Code because the allowance or benefit they receive is substantially less than what they would have received by way of earned monthly income through work. Consequently, balancing work-family life becomes impossible for the most of these women.
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Family, Photo courtesy: www.mypositiveparenting.org

Some Georgian women who work for international organizations are luckier because INGOs view parental leave as the right of a woman. Mothers are therefore given a chance to take a longer period of paid leave which guarantees them a stable income for the family. This also benefits mothers as they are able to spend a longer stress free period of parental leave with their newborns.
Interventions and policy choices made today will determine our tomorrow as childhood deprivations have in the long run irreversible effects on their future capabilities.

The first photo courtesy: www.telegraph.co.uk

Author: Nino Jibuti

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