The motherhood penalty – the loss in lifetime earnings experienced by women raising children – has become the most significant driver of the gender pay gap. Prompted by the underemployment and slower career progression women experience on returning to work after childbirth, it is perpetuated by the unfair share of childcare women take on in almost every country around the world.In the UK, the childcare affordability crisis and low take up by fathers of shared parental leave threatens to exacerbate gender inequality, and is pricing a growing number of women out of work. The shared parental leave system was introduced to encourage fathers to take more parental leave. However, it has had very low uptake from families, estimated at just 2-8% in 2019.
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