Anne Hathaway Speaks Out Against Parental Leave Laws in Powerful Speech

Anne Hathaway blasted the nation's parental leave policy for "economically punishing" those who want to have children during a speech given at the United Nations on Wednesday (08Mar17).

The Les Miserables actress and UN Women Goodwill Ambassador gave an impassioned speech on Wednesday to mark the International Women's Day at the UN's headquarters in New York.

In the speech, she took aim at the country's parental leave policy, which entitles women to 12 weeks' unpaid leave and men to nothing, and called on more companies to offer paid leave to help create a world "in which women and men are not economically punished for wanting to be parents."

The actress became a mother for the first time in March, 2016 and it made her realize how difficult the policy was.

"One week after my son's birth I could barely walk, when I was getting to know a human who was completely dependent on my husband and I for everything, when I was dependent on my husband for most things, when we were relearning everything we thought we knew about our family and relationship," she revealed.

"Somehow, we and every American parent were expected to be 'back to normal' in under three months. Without income. I remember thinking to myself, 'If the practical result 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 unpaid leave economically work?' The truth is, for too many people it doesn't."

She then revealed her own family was affected by this policy because her mother had to choose between a career and raising three children as she was economically unable to do both, and her father was the sole breadwinner meaning his time with them was limited because he worked long hours.

"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," she said.

"Let us honor our own parents sacrifice by creating a path for a fairer, farther reaching truth to define all our lives, especially the lives of our children."

Anne and her husband Adam Shulman's son Jonathan celebrates his first birthday on 24 March (17).