“Somehow we and every American parent were expected to be back to normal in under three months without income,” she said on Wednesday. “I remember thinking to myself, ‘If the practical reality of pregnancy is another mouth to feed in your home and America is a country where most people are living paycheck to paycheck, how does 12 weeks of unpaid leave economically work?’ The truth is for too many people it doesn’t.”
The actress and mother of 11-month-old Jonathan wore red in support of women who went on strike Wednesday for gender equality in the workforce.
Federal U.S. law currently dictates that women receive 12 weeks of unpaid leave, but paid leave is not mandated. Companies sometimes offer maternity pay, however, only 14 percent of Americans have access to paid family leave, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. That’s just unrealistic for the modern workforce, said Hathaway, who last year became a U.N. goodwill ambassador focusing on parental leave.
Hathaway spoke poignantly about her own family’s struggles with gender inequality.
“My mother had to choose between a career and raising three children, a choice that left her unpaid and under-appreciated as a homemaker because there just wasn’t support for both paths,” she said, noting that because her father was the family’s sole earner, she wasn’t able to spend as much time with him. “The assumption and common practice that women and girls look after the home and the family is a stubborn and very real stereotype that not only discriminates against women, but limits men’s participation and connection within the family and society.”
“How many of us here today saw our dads enough growing up?,” she added. “How many of you dads here see your kids enough now? We need to help each other if we are going to go grow.”
Watch her full speech in the video above.