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A global perspective on working mothers

  • Working mothers: maternity leave, child care and salaries

    Some nations have done a better job than others of navigating the needs of two-partner working families as mothers flood the job market.

    In some countries, like Sweden and the United Kingdom, generous amounts of paid leave are the norm while in countries like the United States, only unpaid leave is federally mandated.

    After maternity or paternity leave, national government programs in some countries provide free or subsidized childcare. In most nations, however, parents must cobble together arrangements for care.

    And across the globe, women regularly earn less than their male counterparts.

    A look at seven countries, their maternity leave rules, childcare policies and salary differentials.

    --Data compiled by Kiran Herbert

    (Philippe Desmazes/Getty Images)

  • Sweden

    When you first have a baby:

    Parents are allowed 480 days of leave, with two months of that time reserved for the father. The leave is paid at 80% of salary for the first 390 days and a flat rate set by the government for the remaining 90 days.

    When your child is three or four:

    Children are guaranteed a spot at a public pre-school, with no parent paying more than 3% of their salary for the program.

    Salary differential:

    Swedish women earn 15% less than their male counterparts.

    (Sources: Catalyst, United Nations, National Public Radio)

    (Stuart Franklin/Getty Images)

  • South Africa

    When you first have a baby:

    Women are allowed four months leave, paid up to 60% of their salary depending on income level.

    When your child is three or four:

    Childcare subsidies are offered to low-income parents in some areas through South Africa's Department of Social Development. Other government subsidies are given to community organizations operating childcare facilities for poor children. Many parents pay for private child care or arrange for family care.

    Salary differential:

    As of 2009, the latest data available, women earned an average of R13692 ($1,379) per month, compared with an average of R19912 ($2,005) for men.

    (Sources: Catalyst, United Nations, National Public Radio, SouthAfrica.info)

    (Stephane de Sakutin/Getty Images)

  • Australia

    When you first have a baby:

    Women receive 18 weeks of paid leave, at the federal minimum wage, currently AUD606 ($578). New mothers can take up to 52 weeks of unpaid leave.

    When your child is three or four:

    Childcare benefits, issued from the Australian Department of Human Services, are dependent on income. Many parents pay for private childcare.

    Salary differential:

    Australian women earn 16% less than Australian men.

    (Sources: Catalyst, United Nations, National Public Radio)

    (Saeed Khan/Getty Images)

  • Brazil

    When you first have a baby:

    Women receive 120 days paid maternity leave, at 100% of their salary.

    When your child is three or four:

    Early childhood services are the responsibility of each Brazilian municipality. Public schools are free, but are often overcrowded. Parents who can afford to do so often pay for private care and pre-school.

    Salary differential:

    Women earned an estimated 60% of what men earned, as of 2011.

    (Sources: Catalyst, United Nations, National Public Radio, InterNations)

    (Yasuyoshi Chiba/Getty Images)

  • United Kingdom

    When you first have a baby:

    Mothers are entitled to 52 weeks of maternity leave in total. Six weeks are paid at 90% of salary; the next 33 weeks are paid at a flat rate set by the government; the last 12 weeks are unpaid.

    When your child is three or four:

    Pre-primary school is provided by local governments and private organization for free, for a limited number of hours per week. Parents pay fees for other childcare, with some provisions for low-income families and tax credits available from the government and vouchers offered by some employers to help cover some costs.Still, parents pay about 70% to 80% of childcare costs, according to a 2012 survey by Daycare Trust in the UK.

    Salary differential:

    Women earn 20% less than their male counterparts.

    (Sources: Catalyst, United Nations, National Public Radio, Daycare Trust)

    (Eamonn M McCormack/Getty Images)

  • United States

    When you first have a baby:

    Federal policy allows 12 weeks unpaid leave to women if they work in companies of a certain size for a long enough time period. Some states have more generous leave laws.

    When your child is three or four:

    Low-income families may qualify for childcare subsidies or free Head Start pre-school programs. Some states offer free pre-kindergarten programs. Most parents pay out of pocket for childcare options that include day care centres, private nannies, shared babysitting or pre-school programs.

    Salary differential:

    Median earnings for women are about 78% of the median male earnings.

    (Sources: Catalyst, United Nations, National Public Radio)

    (Mladen Antonov/Getty images)

  • Japan

    When you first have a baby:

    Mothers are allowed 14 weeks of maternity leave, paid at 60% of salary.

    When your child is three or four:

    The Japanese government subsidizes thousands of day care centres nationwide for families at all income levels, although the number of spaces available is limited.

    Salary differential:

    Japanese men earn 28% more than Japanese women.

    (Sources: Catalyst, United Nations, National Public Radio)

    (Yoshikazu Tsuno/Getty Images)