When lack of finances drove Deborah Morris-Travers back to work and away from her 5-month-old son, she cried all the way there.
Yesterday she launched the 26 For Babies coalition, which is pushing the Government to extend paid parental leave from 14 to 26 weeks.
The coalition is made up of her organisation Every Child Counts, Plunket, Unicef, the Breastfeeding Authority, the Women's Studies Association, the Working Women's Resource Centre and unions.
Ms Morris-Travers said when her second child was born, she had spent the previous five years working part-time and didn't have enough savings to allow her to remain off work.
"The first day back at work I cried the whole way from Otaki to Wellington at the thought of leaving my tiny boy behind. I wasn't ready to return to work.
"I spent many months expressing milk in the meeting room, striving to do the best for my son, even if I couldn't be with him every day."
Extending paid parental leave would help women achieve some equality in the labour force by keeping them linked to their jobs, she said.
Labour MP Sue Moroney is sponsoring a member's bill to extend paid parental leave, which scraped through its first reading this week by one vote.
The Government is opposing the bill and has said it would use a financial veto to stop it passing.
Ms Moroney told parents it was appropriate that she had to fight her way through the prams lining the corridors of Labour's offices to get to the launch.
It was even appropriate that there was wee on the floor of her office.
New Zealand has the second-lowest paid parental leave entitlements in the OECD. The United States has none.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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