All parents can expect gifts when a new baby arrives, but you won't often get one from the city council. As a municipal employee in Copenhagen, you willat least if you're the father. The gift, called a daddy package, contains such essentials as a nursing bottle, a bib and diapers, and Copenhagen expects you to use ita lot. That's the hope at least of the city's powerful mayorand former European Union CommissionerRitt Bjerregaard, 66.
Parents in Copenhagen get plenty of leave after a baby is born: up to a total of 48 weeks. But Mom and Dad don't take equal advantage of it. Fifty-five percent of new mothers take 120 days of leave, while 55% of fathers take 14 days or fewer. Bjerregaard, who took office in 2006, didn't care for those numbers.
To set things right, she launched the Daddy Forever campaign. Though the daddy package is a gentle nudge, there are other inducements. Husbands argue that they can't take leave since they often earn more than their wives and the family needs the paycheck. In Copenhagen, however, dads can receive full pay for 14 weeks. "With the policy to provide full compensation, this argument does not hold up," Bjerregaard says.
The program is not directed solely at leveling the playing field of the family. Bjerregaard wants to increase the share of women leaders among Copenhagen's 50,000 municipal employees, and one way to do that is to spread the time away from work equally. But that is a secondary goal. Years from now, Bjerregaard knows, she'll be remembered less for balancing the sexes in the city workforce than dads will be remembered for the simple business of being at home.
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