Equally Shared Parenting - Half the Work ... All the Fun

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Here's where we keep you updated on news about parenting as it relates to division of responsibilities, career versus home decisions, work/life balance, and legislative and grass-roots movements toward equality or better choices for families. We'll also throw in our opinions of life as equal parents in a nonequal world, regardless of what's in the news.

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Equality Blog

Friday, December 05, 2008

Calling for Crazy Ideas

I stumbled today upon a left-wing UK thinktank organization that is holding a contest to come up with ways to achieve "a more equal, democratic and sustainable world." The thinktank, called Compass, was created in 2003 to debate and develop ideas for change, and then campaign to move them forward. Their contest was inspired by the upcoming US presidential change and is called 'How to Live in the 21st Century.'

Why am I telling you all of this? Because I was struck by
one of the proposals that has been submitted. It calls for changing the definition of full-time work to 20 hours per week. Here's the proposal's brief description:

[A 20-hour work week] leads to equality between the sexes and means that parenting can be equally shared. It frees people up to contribute properly to their communities at the same time as making work accessible to all, even young mothers, and allows all to participate more fully in democracy. It would halve traffic and employer overheads allowing them to pay the same wages as for today's 40-hour week.

It goes on to, again very briefly, describe how this change could be cost-neutral to companies, allow for full employment, and possibly even reduce capital costs and IT expenses for workplaces (if half of a building's employees worked different days than the other half).

Now, even I know this is pie-in-the-sky thinking. Among many other stumbling blocks (like the fact that I'm not sure many - including I - want to reduce their career to only 20 hours per week), most people would probably rush to say they couldn't possibly live on half their salary, even if it meant everyone around them would then be doing the same thing. But long ago, most people worked far more than 40 hours per week too - and labor laws changed that. And we adjusted and survived as a species.

Imagine all the people. Living for today. I'm getting carried away now...thinking about a world where all people work enough (whatever exact number of hours 'enough' means), have enough time with their families and to care for their homes, contribute meaningfully to their communities, and enjoy plenty of time for personal fun. Where ESP is so common that we no longer have to fight against anything to achieve it.

You may say I'm a dreamer. But I'm not the only one.


Blogger Michelle Barry Franco said...

Oh, I am so singing along with you... for me, it's less about the number of hours doing any one thing (and certainly not about being told by someone how many hours I have for work, play, family time, etc.) as feeling partnered in the goal of a full life in all valued domains - and truly equally sharing the parenting of our babes.

1:25 PM  
Blogger Amy said...

Thanks! I agree that the great feeling of partnership is absolutely one of the best parts of ESP.

8:26 PM  
Blogger aztec-rose said...

What a great idea, a 20 hour work week. Better for parents, kids, and the planet. If only it could start tomorrow.

9:03 AM  

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