November 02, 2017
Photo by Ike Hayman/World Bank Group Photo by Ike Hayman/World Bank Group

by Mariam Fall

 

Most of us here in the room have the luxury of being able to afford childcare, have access to childcare in some form and have the luxury of working with children, even though in most parts of the world this is something people can only dream of” says Gillian Tett, U.S. Managing Editor at the Financial Times.   

 

Indeed, childcare is not only something precious but also an opportunity not everyone in the world can afford. In today's society, the lack of access to childcare remains one of the main obstacles to women’s employment. Supporting working parents, especially mothers, therefore becomes a priority for many.

 

Recently the annual meeting of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank Group took place in Washington, D.C. At the Supporting Working Parents: Tackling Childcare event, CEO’s and politicians from a variety of countries discussed new opportunities to provide childcare support for working parents. The IFC (International Finance Corporation) also revealed new data from a recent study Tackling Childcare: The Business Case for Employer-Supported Childcare.

 

Based on 10 case studies, it presents different kinds of employer-supported childcare concepts, that meet the needs of employees in a sustainable manner. It also incorporates an analysis from the World Bank Group’s Women, Business and the Law team (WBL) about the impact of different laws on women’s economic empowerment in 173 countries.

 

Farhan A. Ifram, CEO of MAS Kreeda - Al Safi in Jordan says: “We cannot produce garments without fabrics. Same thing, we can not have employees without childcare. It’s part of doing business.” His company has become a pioneer in providing childcare support for employees. In cooperation with different organizations and with the financial support of the Jordanian government, he implemented a childcare system that benefits both his employees as well as his company. The on-site crèche‘s opening hours correspond to those of the factory and new mothers are allowed to take off an hour every day for breastfeeding. Additionally, buses free of charge drive all workers, including women and their children, to the factory and back to specific destinations every single day. The results are remarkable: less absenteeism by mothers at work and the creation of new job opportunities in poor areas.

 

Some people believe there’s nothing surprising about the value of childcare to a company and it’s employees but employer-supported childcare is NOT the order of the day, especially in western countries. The Women, Business and the Law 2016 project found employers are not always legally required to provide childcare. In only 11 out of the 50 analyzed economies, childcare support is a legal obligation. In countries like Jordan, not all companies offer this benefit, childcare is only an obligation when they employ 20 females with 10 children under the age of 4.

 

Stephen Kramer, President of Bright Horizons Family Solutions says: Parents have the same basic expectation for their children, regardless of where they live and work. There is a basic expectation among all parents that they want a high-quality setting for their children and that is what the children deserve.“ His company aims to convince employers to invest in childcare.

 

It seems that there is still a long way to go before gender equality sustainable development goals can be achieved, and in order to do so, better childcare support options for working parents are imperative.

 

You can watch the full video here: https://live.worldbank.org/tackling-childcare

 

Read the full report here: Tackling Childcare: The Business Case for Employer-Supported Childcare. http://www.ifc.org/wps/wcm/connect/bd3104e5-5a28-4ee9-8bd4-e914026dd700/01817+WB+Childcare+Report_FinalWeb3.pdf?MOD=AJPERES

 

The Women, Business and the Law 2016 project: http://wbl.worldbank.org/~/media/WBG/WBL/Documents/Reports/2017/WBL2017_ChildCare.pdf