The Nepalese Government has decided to grant paternity leave to all male state employees. Under the new law, male employees will be allowed to take 11 days’ paid leave for the birth of each of their first two children.
The new rule comes as part of moves to reform the civil administration and break new ground in the region. Government employees in neighbouring India and Pakistan are currently not entitled to paternity leave.
Officials said the idea to offer paternity leave is aimed at the welfare of women as it will allow male employees to take care of their wives and newborn babies. At the moment female government employees get two months of paid maternity leave.
The Government has also introduced other measures in the face of pressure from international donors for administrative reform. Nepal committed to widespread changes when it received a $300m (£167m) loan from the Asian Development Bank in 2001.
These reforms include reserving more than 40 per cent of jobs in government agencies for women, minorities, and groups suffering discrimination. In addition, the Government is planning to establish childcare centres to encourage women to work in the public sector.
The public reaction to the move was generally positive. Bhim Kunwar, a section officer at the commerce ministry, told the BBC: “I think the Government must have realised that males, especially in nuclear families, need such leave.”
But an employee at the foreign ministry said he was not excited as he already had two children.