Curious if being a single mother might be easier in some places in the world? I know I am! Even if I will never live in one of the best countries where being a mom is financially feasible, it’s good to know where to go if an opportunity arises, so to speak. A great majority of moms who read this blog come from all over the world, and it would be great to get some personal feedback on this topic. So please go ahead in share your experience in comments!
There is an abundance of data about various benefits and rewards available to moms in various countries. Usually, only top 5 or 10 countries make the list, with the rest of places left in the dark. Since I live in North America, I can speak about Canada and the United States. Sadly, both these countries did not make it to the top 10 list.
According to the article “10 Places Moms Are Better Off Than in the United States“, these top countries are:
- The Netherlands
The countries above are considered to offer the best and very generous benefits to moms. Some criteria used were the length of parental leave, the % of salary during this leave, and additional benefits such as subsidized childcare and financial gifts. I must admit, when I reviewed the details about the support mothers receive in these countries I was both upset and inspired at the same time. Upset because I don’t live there, and inspired because it’s amazing to know that some governments out there just “get it”. They understand what mothers need to raise healthy and happy children. They are also aware that this, in turn, will create a better generation of citizens for their country.
Importantly, the benefits you see on the list do not include any additional benefits these countries offer to single moms. But we can only imagine!
When I wrote about the “Grants For Single Mothers in Canada“, some moms commented they wish they lived in Canada. And yet, Canada is very far from the countries listed above in what it has to offer its moms. I also doubt there will be substantial reforms in the near future that will place Canada on the list of top countries for moms. Here is why:
The length of maternity leave in Canada is 12 months with a mere 55% of average weekly earnings. The average weekly earnings have absolutely nothing to do with your actual salary, so even if you were making $90,000 a year or more, you will be still receiving only $543 per week. There is also a new 2017 provision which allows mothers to take 18 months off but with a further loss of receiving only 33% of average weekly earnings. As I live in Canada, I can tell you that no single mother can provide a comfortable living with that amount while she is doing one of the most important jobs in the world!
Needless to say, the maternity leave benefit in Canada is archaic compared to that of top countries on the list. For example “Swedish mothers get an impressive 420 days of maternity leave, and they are paid 80 percent of their salary” and “Norwegian moms can take up to 46 weeks of parental leave and still receive 100 percent of their salary. If they want to stay at home longer, they can get an additional 10 weeks at 80 percent of their salary.” I’m speechless, and yes it is real!
Now, let’s talk about the plight of moms in the United States. When I discovered what maternity leave and benefits are like in the U.S. my heart was filled with empathy and pain for moms who live there. According to a “2012 study conducted by the Department of Labor found that 23 percent of women who had left work to care for an infant took less than 2 weeks off, increasing health risks for both mothers and children.”
Turns out, getting a maternity leave is a luxury in the United States available only top top-level employees in a corporate sector. As the Department of Labor states, only a mere “12% of U.S. non-government workers have access to paid family leave,” which results in a higher infant mortality and other losses. In the case of Amber Scorah, her 3-month old child died on the first day of her going back to work and leaving him at a daycare. What a terrible situation! I am very sorry to hear about the death of Amber’s baby and to know that there must be many more cases like this, which could be easily prevented with the proper maternity benefits.
In conclusion, everything become clear when we get a perspective. A truly global perspective on the best practices to support mothers and children, as opposed to our own limited experience that narrows our value and goals as mothers. While we see that the United States needs an urgent implementation of extended paid maternity leave, we need to keep moving countries like Canada further towards the right direction. Both our governments can learn and adopt mothers support programs used by Sweden, Finland, Norway, and other countries which rightfully claimed their place on the top 10 list!