Huffpost Parents

United States Only First-World Country Without Mandatory Paid Maternity Leave: 'A Human Rights Issue' (VIDEO)

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The United States has no mandatory paid family leave policy, making it one of just three countries in the world and the only country in the first-world to not mandate paid maternity leave for new mothers (Swaziland and Papua New Guinea are the others).

"What does this mean?" HuffPost Live host Nancy Redd asked Friday. "It means that new working mothers are almost always without pay for the first few months of their child's life and are frequently left without a job to come back to."

Redd was joined by several working mothers -- including Best For Babes Foundation co-founder Danielle Rigg, National Partnership for Women & Families Director of Work and Family Programs Vicki Shabo and HuffPost Parents Editor Farah Miller -- for a panel discussion about America's "barbaric" practice.

"It puts us all in a very cranky place," Miller said. "What you're left with when you don't have support in terms of leave is women who are going back to work because they have to in order to support their family....I hear from mothers all the time who say, 'I was not ready to go back after twelve weeks.'"

"We have a very individualistic culture," Shabo added. "Everybody faces these work-family conflicts but they think of them as individual problems that don't necessarily have public policy solutions."

Shabo highlighted New Jersey and California as two states that offer potential solutions to the problem, but said the United States is lacking a federal solution.

"At the national level, we are falling sorely behind other nations and really lagging in terms of what workers in this country need to make ends meet and also take care of their families," she said.

"Women are being booby trapped left and right," Rigg added. "We're throwing moms and babies under the bus. This is very serious. This is not a woman's issue, this is not a sideline issue. This is a front and center issue, a human rights issue."

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