How's this for a harsh assessment of all you folks out there in your child-bearing years:
"Moderns are more concerned about careers and possessions than about replenishing the Earth or continuing the species."
So says law professor Ian Hunter in a recent column headlined "A world without children." In it, he laments falling worldwide birthrates and concludes that Canadians "have given up on the future."
Personally, I much prefer Sharon Lerner's discussion of what's behind declining procreation. In this article about motherhood and working, she cites reasons that are a lot less judgmental and a lot more tangible. Such as inadequate social and financial supports for families, and the burden faced by mothers in the work force. Lerner writes:
Could it be, then, that easing a woman's ability to hold a job and raise children simultaneously will nudge her toward having a bigger family? At least 45 countries in Europe and Asia are betting on it, having instituted government programs to maintain or raise their fertility rates. Contrary to the rhetoric of many family-values champions, their example suggests that the promotion of larger families and the promotion of women's careers may go hand in hand.
In the European Union, the solutions include extensive child care facilities and parity in pay and benefits to part-time workers, giving women more flexibility in their work lives. The result: countries that support high numbers of working women such as Norway, Denmark and Finland have among the highest birthrates.
Meanwhile back in Canada, the topic of childcare is threatening to boil dry on the back burner. As Elizabeth Ablett, executive director of the Ontario Coalition for Better Child Care, said yesterday "We are still waiting." In more ways than one.
There's no national childcare program in sight since that dream crashed and burned with the last federal election. No money yet from the provincial Liberals who promised $300 million in 2003 to fund additional badly-needed spaces. According advocates, we are flunking out on all counts.
Last month, the Kelly Global Workforce Index reported the situation is hindering productivity of Canadian parents in the workplace. Their survey, which includes 10,000 Canadians, also found that 65 per cent of women and 59 per cent of men would return to work or work longer hours if quality childcare service was available.
Hardly surprising, given what a daunting exercise searching for caregivers can be. And if by chance you've blocked out the memories, or haven't been there yet, stroll on over to Postcards from the Mothership and read Dani's recent experiences. It's enough to make you want to curl up in the fetal position with a pacifer.
Happy International Women's Day.