The French government has acknowledged what most new mothers already knew: taking care of a newborn is work.
As a result, all of a mother's time on maternity leave will now be counted toward her retirement. Under the old law women could only validate the first trimester of leave per child, even if the legal duration exceeded that time, Le Monde reported.
In the case of multiple births or women expecting a third child, maternity leave can last six months or more.
This change comes at a time when France is trying to knock down some of the barriers that have resulted in women earning smaller pay checks than men and being less present in the halls of power.
Lawmakers were working in January on a sweeping bill that would require more women on certain corporate decision making bodies and push men to share in more of the household tasks.
Voted by parliament in December, the maternity leave reform is part of a package of pension reforms enforced in January and will affect all mothers who have given birth this year.
The reform also applies to adoption leave entitlement to daily allowances. It was published on Sunday in the Journal Officiel, the bulletin giving details of laws and official announcements in France, the decree means that all maternity leave will now be taken into account.
Writing on Twitter, Marisol Touraine, France’s minister for social affairs hailed the reform as progress for women’s rights.
“Decree out today: all maternity leave taken into account for retirement. Promise kept. Major step forward for women,” the minister tweeted.
Décret paru aujourd'hui : tous les trimestres de maternité pris en compte pour la retraite. Engagement tenu. Avancée majeure pour les femmes
— Marisol Touraine (@MarisolTouraine) June 1, 2014
And in a statement published on Sunday the minister said: “Taking into account all maternity and adoption leave represents a major step forward for women and for their families. It’s proof that a just and progressive pension reform is possible.”
Showing how women's worlds are not always just was the focus of a French director's film "Oppressed Majority" which gave a glimpse of how life would be if men and women switched roles.
Here is the film (it contains some nudity):