Working dads

Let's see who can explain to the Constitutional Court that once the first months of a baby's life have passed, when a mother has recovered from the birth, both parents can look after their child equally well.

And that not giving them equal leave is discrimation.

Malaga magistrate María Luisa Balaguer, who voted against the recent ruling that maternity and paternity could not be equal, had tried to get her colleagues to undertsand this, but apparently without much success.

Balaguer says that the TC's decision ignores the evolution of society and perpetuates the discrimination against women in the workplace, as with leave of different lengths they are still less attractive to employers. Some traditions are still very powerful.

I'm a big fan of the expression "working dad" and I've never understood why these concepts are never mixed in our everyday language, while it's normal to say "working mum". The latter sums up in just two words that being a parent and having a job is only a problem for women. They can work outside the home, but looking after the family is still their department.

It's true that it would be reasonable for the government to take the decision to make maternity and paternity leave periods equal. In just a few years we have come a long way, from just three days for new dads to the present five weeks. However the Constitutional Court has let pass a golden opportunity to encourage the government to get a move on. The discrimination is not just because women interrupt their professional careers to be mothers for longer than the birth, but because sharing the bringing-up of a child is a duty and a right of all parents. Of course when a company has to choose between a man and a woman, of new parent age, they will employ the man.

Dads should have a longer paternity leave to strengthen their links with the child, to be able to enjoy fatherhood and, as a friend once told me, to be left "holding the baby" as that's the only way to learn.

And on top of all this the court made its ruling allegedly to protect the health of the mothers. Well don't worry. Recovering from a normal birth does not require years off work. And as children don't come with an instruction book, the best way of learning how to be a parent is to practise.

This comes as a blow to anyone hoping to seek real equality between men and women.