The Effects of Maternity Policy on Women’s Fertility Decision from the Islamic Perspective: An Exploratory Study

Nur Syahidah Abdul Jalil

Institute of Islamic Understanding Malaysia (IKIM)

Abstract


The changing roles of women today from traditional family caregivers to multitasking financial providers require specific protection to preserve their natural role as mothers. Such protection which include job security, health, maternity leave, maternity benefits, and others are to ensure that women are able to balance multiple roles. Pressures on any of their roles may adversely affect society and the economy in terms of labour market, when expectant mothers go off-ramping or when women choose to exercise their fertility decision-making. Many studies indicate a negative relationship between maternity policy and fertility which proves that women need support to serve both functions. There is also a difference in terms of the maternity policies between developed and developing countries which indicates a diverse approach in addressing the issue even though both face the same declining fertility rate problem. Islam does not object to the idea of career women in general. However, a set of guidelines has to be followed to preserve the sharīʿah. Among others, Islam promotes the maternal nature of women by encouraging them to continue breastfeeding when they are on-ramping. Thus, this paper intends to assess the fertility decisions made based on the women’s understanding of their firm’s maternity policy by conducting survey interviews. Even though the study finds that maternity policy does not directly affect the fertility decisions of the women involved, there are still recommendations to be made to improve current maternity policy practices by firms in general to promote a healthier working environment for women.


Keywords


Women, maternity policy, maternity leave, fertility, labour.

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