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Hoda Kotb is Back to Work, Says More Women Need to Take Maternity Leave

Hoda Kotb is returning to the Today show after the adoption of her second daughter, Hope, back in April. She shared the news on Instagram, and then later called in to the show to talk about her plans to come back on air in two weeks. She said on the call that this has been the best summer of her life; she also noted she’s excited to be back. While Kotb’s youngest isn’t aware of what, exactly, “Mom going back to work” means, Kotb added that she’s definitely hoping to set an example for her older daughter, Haley. We’re sure Haley has enjoyed having her mom back (Hoda recounted a song she sings called “Mommy no work”), but Hoda wants her to know that she’s choosing to go to work.

“I love her, and I love work, and I want her to know that work is a good thing, it’s not something you get dragged off to,” she told the show’s hosts.

She also has a message for mothers like her — those who are privileged to be able to take extended maternity leaves. In an interview with People, Kotb talked more about her summer with her girls:

“I feel like if you can, and if you’re at a point where you feel like you can do it, you should do it,” she told the magazine. But her reasoning has just as much to do with other women as with baby-bonding.

“I’m sure every woman wants to do it and can’t,” she continued.” But if more women are taking the allotted time, then other women aren’t going to look at them funny.”

While the U.S. currently only guarantees two weeks of unpaid leave to some workers, even workplaces that offer more “generous” maternity leaves may find their situations less than ideal. As a recent viral memo from a Google employee shows, women may feel pressured or even coerced into taking less time off after their baby is born. If women with more social capital insist on taking their full leave, it can help destigmatize the concept for others.

And while Hoda doesn’t directly address it, we think that the same responsibility should fall on dads who are able to take full advantage of their workplace’s paternity leaves as well. Until we have better protection under the law for parents of any gender, it’s something we all owe to each other.

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