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Illustrator Portrays Maternity in France and the United States

French feminist artist Emma has made a name for herself with biting illustrations about gender equality and raising children. In her latest work, she compares maternity care in France and the United States.

Emma — her pseudonym — has been invited to take part in a series of articles for The Guardian focused on the American system’s shortcomings in terms of maternity and postnatal care. Women in France have 16 weeks of maternity leave, during which they are paid in proportion to their working salary. Their partners have to go back to work after 11 days — a period of time Emma sees as far too short for women to recover and feel ready to take on their new responsibilities. And the struggle to find a child care center and the price of nannies are two factors that often put women off returning to their jobs.

The situation is worse in the United States. With each birth costing families around 3,400 dollars, America is the most expensive country in the world in which to have children. What’s more, a lack of access to insurance only increases inequality. Today, New Jersey, Rhode Island, and California are the only states that require employers to pay maternity leave.

emma-illustration-pregnancy-maternity-care

© Emma/The Guardian

emma-illustration-pregnancy-maternity-care

© Emma/The Guardian

emma-illustration-pregnancy-maternity-care

© Emma/The Guardian

  • J’ai eu mes deux enfants et Californie et je n’ai rien payé car nous avions une HMO. Ce n’est donc pas général. Mais la différence est culturelle. Les femmes étant considérées comme égales aux hommes, sans discrimination officielles ne bénéficient d’aucun statut, respect, considération particulière. Beaucoup arrêtent de travailler juste avant pour reprendre vite en culpabilisant la trêve. Être enceinte n’est pas être malade et accoucher et repartir le jour-même est brutal oui… ce n’est pas un pays “tendre” qui n’est pas une culture du lien. Business as usual.

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