Daraine Luton, Senior Staff Reporter
SOUTH TRELAWNY Member of Parliament Marisa Dalrymple-Philibert has urged fellow legislators to put in place the framework for paternity leave.
"I would want to think that men need paternity leave to support the mothers who have given birth to their children," she said on Tuesday.
Dalrymple-Philibert, the opposition spokesperson on Education and Human Resource Development, was making her contribution to the debate on the National Parenting Commission Support Act in the House of Representatives.
Stressing the need for paternity leave, she said, "it is not a joke, we will have to encourage them to get into the delivery room from the very first moment."
"I say to you that, when a woman has a child and the father is out at work providing just money alone, and you are left at home and you often cannot afford household help, a two weeks or a three weeks to help the woman who has brought this child into the world is something we should consider," the opposition MP said.
At present, Jamaican mothers are legally entitled to maternity leave with pay. However, there is no such provision for fathers.
Dalrymple-Philibert said parenting requires more than money. She stressed that it also requires emotional support.
Government backbencher, medical doctor Dayton Campbell, also underscored the need for fathers to be active in the parenting process.
"For a father, it is important to develop an attachment with the child, even before it is born," Dr Campbell said.
Pointing to medical research which says unborn children can react to distinct voices while in the womb, Dr Campbell urged Jamaican men to get close to their children from early.
"It is vital that a father develops a close attachment with his child by bathing him, hugging him, feeding him, if the situation permits him to do so. This non-spoken physical contact can strengthen father-child relations," he said.