Written byAnjana Raghav
India and Nigeria, which have high infant populations, are among the 92 countries that don't have national policies in place that ensure new fathers get adequate paid time off with their newborn babies, according to UNICEF's new analysis.
Almost two-thirds of world's children aged below one year (nearly 90mn) live in such countries.
Brazil and Congo have such policies, albeit offering relatively short-term entitlements.
The UN agency noted that globally the momentum for family-friendly policies was growing. It cited the example of India, where officials are proposing a Paternity Benefit Bill for consideration in the next Parliament session which could allow fathers up to 3 months' paid paternity leave.
However, UNICEF said in eight countries, including the US which is home to nearly 4mn infants, there was no paid maternity or paternity leave policy.
"Positive and meaningful interaction with mothers and fathers from the very beginning helps shape children's brain growth and development for life. It's all of our responsibility to enable them to fill this role," UNICEF Executive Director Henrietta Fore said.
Evidence suggests that when fathers bond with their babies from the beginning of life, they are more likely to play a more active role in child's development.
Research suggests that when children positively interact with their fathers, they have better psychological health, self-esteem, and life satisfaction in the long-term, UNICEF said.
UNICEF urged governments to implement national family-friendly policies that support early childhood development.
Earlier this year, UNICEF modernized its approach to parental leave provisions, with up to 16 weeks of paid leave for paternity across all of its offices worldwide, becoming the first United Nations agency to extend such leave beyond the standard four weeks.
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