by

Filed under: Central Asia Gender equality Human rights

A dad carrying his new born little daughter and standing next to his wife holding a roses bouquet

Leaving the maternity hospital

When my daughter was born, I experienced a happiness I had never known before.

As a father, I wanted to be there to experience my daughter’s first few precious weeks of life, so I did something many fathers do not, or are unable, to do: I took paternity leave.

I was fortunate to have an understanding supervisor who supported my decision and allowed me to take a 20-day leave from work to be at home with my wife and daughter.

At the time, I didn’t understand why my colleagues were wishing me a good night’s sleep, but I soon figured it out! Taking care of a baby is a 24-hour-a-day job.

I was determined to experience the new joys of parenthood with my wife (and help her out!) and to observe local customs related to the birth of a child.

My family follows Uzbek traditions, and the birth of a new child brings with it a specific set of rules, rituals, and attitudes.

The most sensitive period of this time is the 40 days following the birth, which we call chilla. Since I would be home for 20 days, I was following a “little” chilla.

I expected my daughter’s first 20 days to be full of new joyous experiences and challenges, and I was proved right. I saw my baby’s first smile, heard her first cry, and learned what gestures she used to tell us how she was feeling. For example, when she doesn’t want to be around other people, she’ll close her eyes and turn her head from left to right.

The basic requirements of chilla that I followed included the following:

  • Be home before sunset.
  • Have no guests in the home. If you are hosting guests, the mother and child should be separated from the guests. I followed this rule only for the health of my wife and daughter, as the first few weeks after birth are quite sensitive for both mother and child.
  • Do not drink alcohol or smoke cigarettes in a room where your baby is sleeping or playing.
  • A breastfeeding mother should avoid fruit, salads, sodas, and artificial juices, and should drink only black tea and boiled water.

Another large part of being a new father was planning a new family budget to ensure my daughter has everything she needs to be healthy and safe.

Where I live in Tashkent, I have access to many drug stores. This meant that I could now compare prices to ensure I was getting my daughter the medications and supplies she needed but at the best price.

Paternity leave also allowed me the chance to bond with my child and realize that the decisions I made now affected my entire family. Becoming a new parent means adjusting your lifestyle and assessing your priorities.

A good example is that I’m now aware of how important it is to spend my time at home with my wife and daughter. Instead of bringing work home, I now spend my evenings feeding and caring for my daughter and helping my wife put her to bed.

Spending those first few weeks of my daughter’s life at home is an experience I’ll remember forever. I strongly encourage fathers everywhere to take paternity leave if they’re able to. You don’t want to miss all of those new “firsts”!

A super cute little baby crawling on a bed

That’s her!

  • jalol

    good story, useful & necessary lessons are provided for a father of a family expecting the birth of a new family member

  • Artur

    oh, so UNDP in Uzbekistan provides paternity leave? very touching story, but as far as I know, there is no such thing as paternity leave. let’s not preach the concepts UNDP doesn’t have and doesn’t support.

    • Jura Khrapunov

      @Artur – UNDP does provide paternity leave to all male staff members. You can find respective policy at https://info.undp.org/global/popp/hrm/Pages/paternity-leave.aspx

      • Artur

        thanks, Jura. very cheeky. Absolute majority of “staff” in UNDP Uzbekistan and other countries, including Mr. Bakhadirov here, are NOT UNDP staff members. They are on short-term service contracts (or whatever they are called these days). These contracts certainly do not allow for paternity leaves. These types of contracts are used to save money, on various benefits (including, but not limited to, paternity leaves). Nice of UNDP to promote gender equality, and not willing to pay for it. (some statistics – UNDP in Uzbekistan staff – about 30 persons, UNDP in Uzbekistan “staff” on service contracts – about 300 persons)

        • Jura Khrapunov

          Ok, let’s keep it on a topic. You are perfectly RIGHT saying that people under service contracts are not eligible for paternity leave, just for the reason that they are not considered as UNDP staff members, unfortunately. I, personally, don’t think it is fair or correct, especially for the people performing core functions, but it is plainly WRONG to say that UNDP doesn’t support concept of paternity leave at all.

        • Barbora Galvankova

          Dear Artur,
          This is to let you know that UNDP certainly applies the same policy in terms of paternity and maternity leave for both UNDP staff and service contract holders. As my colleague Ivana rightly pointed out above. Perhaps you weren’t informed correctly about the conditions of the service contract holders?

          • Artur

            Perhaps you are sitting too far wherever you are, and don’t know what is going on in country offices?

          • Barbora Galvankova

            In fact, I’m on a daily basis in contact with colleagues in COs and often working with them directly I have double checked with our HR colleagues in my office as well as with the ones working in Uzbekistan before replying to your comment. If you have any concerns regarding the compliance of the benefits, your are entitled to within your contract, I believe you should contact your HR unit or address your concerns to your staff association ( I specify that they also represent / address the concerns of staff under the service contract- as myself)

            However, it is shame that the discussion is not around the benefit of the paternity leave for the family and children well-being. I believe only the fact that both father and mother have the possibility to enjoy first weeks with their children is a luxury that is not yet accessible to everyone around the world. There are still many companies and countries where the fathers cannot take paternity leave and perhaps Azizkhon’s story will make them reflect about this possibility. The change of such policies allowing fathers to take longer paternity leave is currently at the center of discussion in several countries in Europe as well as in other continents for eg. in UK see http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2384522/Paternity-leave-policy-Nick-Clegg-tells-new-dads-month-nothing.html

          • Artur

            I am happy to engage in that discussion. However, I do mind the fact that UNDP in Uzbekistan can be so hypocritical. As I said above, the provision on paternity leaves is not in our contracts. I am just kindly asking the UNDP Regional office in Bratislava and HR in Uzbekistan to change the form and CLEARLY indicate our rights in FULL. And then you can report all the success stories you want.

    • Azizkhon Bakhadirov

      Dear Artur,
      UNDP Uzbekistan office, as any UNDP office elsewhere, provides paternity leave for both Country Office staff members and projects’ teams employed under Service Contracts as stated in comments of my colleagues earlier. I am a holder of Service Contract. if you come to my office, I will show you what I have signed for and what service contract guidelines provide for holders of such contracts. I am a lawyer and read carefully before I sign when it concerns terms of contracts and documents.

      • Ifoda

        Azizkhon, congratulations!!! I am happy for your family and also for your courage to take this step. While UNDP HR rules allow paternity, the issue is that not many men would want to take this chance (particularly in Uzb) and help their wives with a new-born baby. This is the way to go and change the perception and gender stereotypes.

  • Aziz Muradov

    Sorry to rain on your gender equality parade, but Artur is right. No paternity leaves on service contracts.

  • Ivana Hraskova (HR Associate)

    Dear Colleagues, Friends, I would like to bring to your attention HR rules for Service Contract holders where it is written that SC holder is also entitled to paternity leave. More in the rules: https://info.undp.org/global/popp/hrm/Pages/serv-cntrcts.aspx para 4.28
    Should you have any questions, please do let me know.
    Congratulations to Azizkhon and his family!!!

    • Artur

      If you are responsible for HR compliance in Uzbekistan UNDP, you better check their service contracts, Ms. Hraskova. It certainly doesn’t include paternity leave.

      • Ivana Hraskova (HR Associate)

        Dear Artur, I am based in Bratislava, UNDP Regional Centre for
        Europe and the CIS and the HR rules are global and general for all SCs. Please note that the contracts are managed locally however and as written in the SC guidelines “Paid paternity leave must take into account the general local practice, except that in no case shall the paternity leave be less than four weeks, which is the minimum standard.” It does not have to be stated directly in the contract itself but the rules are valid for all SCs globally. I also checked with my HR colleague in Uzbekistan and I was assured the guidelines are followed accordingly.

        • Artur

          Dear Ms. Hraskova. I appreciate the response. I encourage UNDP in Bratislava to facilitate the inclusion of this language in a standard SC contract in UNDP Uzbekistan. I asked my male colleagues, and nobody knows about this paternity leave. I am not a lawyer, but something tells me that such an important provision MUST be part of the contract we sign. Let’s not kid ourselves and others with this wonderfull story. Actions first.

  • Koh

    My huge thanks to Azizkhon for sharing his story. I get it – it doesn’t matter whether you are mother or father. Mothers and fathers are equally capable of providing care for their children, and more importantly, they are just as keen as each other to be part of their children’s lives. Men and women equally share responsibilities at work place. It’s time they become equally responsible partners at home, too.

    For the interest of those who are working in UNDP, I paste below the text from our HR rules in relation to parental leave of SC holders (see also https://intranet.undp.org/global/popp/hrm/Pages/serv-cntrcts.aspx)

    4.27 Maternity Leave
    Paid maternity leave is to be established taking into account the general local
    practice in the market, except that in no case shall the period of maternity
    leave be less than 16 continuous weeks, which is the minimum standard.
    The maternity leave must fall within and be taken during the contract period.

    4.28
    Paternity Leave
    a) Paid paternity leave must take into account the general local practice, except that
    in no case shall the paternity leave be less than four weeks, which is the
    minimum standard. The Paternity leave must fall within and be taken during the
    contract period.
    b) The SC holder must have had at least 6 months of service with UNDP at the time of the birth of the child. The leave is to be taken in one or two equal
    periods during the first twelve months from the birth of a child.
    c) The paternity leave is limited to once a year, regardless of the number of children
    born during that year, and can only be availed at a maximum up to six times
    during the total engagement within the UN system.

    Hope this helps.

    Koh

  • Barbora Galvankova

    Great post Azizkhon, thank you for sharing your experience with paternity leave.

  • Junona

    Sorry, dear firends, buit my personal opinion: it’s not the post about the rules of UNDP! The key message – is not being afraid to take vacation and take care of newborn child… But deeply inside I believe – it is not even the gender equality issue – it’s the love of father to his children, family, it’s about responsibility… “Gender equality” and self-PR – they are just a “sweet cover” for this story.

  • Liliya Zakharova

    Good morning everyone and thank you for sharing your feedback
    on the blog!

    Just to figure out from HR point of view – the SC holders in
    Uzbekistan (likewise in other COs) are eligible
    for maternity and paternity leaves as part of Service Contract conditions of
    service. I am proud that our staff and personnel do utilize these entitlements
    at almost 100%!

    Wishing all the very best week ahead!

    Liliya

  • Sevara

    Wow! I like this combination: a blog written by an Uzbek man about paternity leave! Great
    job! My congratulations to you, Azizkhon! Your daugther is sooo pretty! l really hope that your experience will inspire many men to take paternity leave, so it
    becomes a norm!

  • Koh

    I am glad that we are in agreement that the pertinent issue Azizkhon’s blog has brought to our attention is the sharing of child care responsibility by parents, and not the UNDP HR rules. We don’t see or hear enough about men prioritizing child care responsibility over work responsibility. And yet we see or hear a lot about, for example, how women take leave when their children are sick. It’s important that many more men talk about this because it influences negative gender stereotypes. This is a great blog.

  • Karin Plokker

    Dear Azizkhon,
    Congratulations on your beautiful baby daughter!
    Amazing that you found time to post this blog.
    It’s a really positive story for UNDP and Uzbekistan.
    An inspiration to fathers everywhere!
    Did you know that in the Netherlands, fathers are only entitled to 2 days “partnerleave”?
    And even mothers only receive 16 weeks.
    So you see, you are very privileged to be a father in Tashkent!
    The very best wishes for you and your wonderful new family from all of us here at the Nicolaas Witsen Foundation!
    Karin Plokker

    • Azizkhon Bakhadirov

      Dear Karin,

      It is nice to hear from you. I am still under a good impression from the study tour that your Foundation has organized for us last year. I use a lot of experience and the best practices that we have observed during our trip to the Netherlands and Germany. I am a bit surprised that in the Netherlands fathers are entitled only for 2 days leave on such occasions. Does it concern both civil service and private business employees?
      Thanks for your support.
      Best regards,
      Azizkhon