Madeleine Kunin, a former Governor of Vermont and U.S. Ambassador, is on tour promoting her book The New Feminist Agenda. Kunin writes that during the heady days of the feminist movement of the 1970s, she expected that by today, “affordable, quality child care would be widely available, that paid family leave would be the law, and that equal pay for equal work would be a reality.”

What she did not expect was that 12 years into the new century, only 17% of Congress and the same proportion of corporate board members would be female, or that women would be making only 77 cents to a man’s dollar. But that’s the reality she sees, hence the need for a new feminist agenda.

In one of those happy coincidences that sometimes punctuate a news junkie’s day, just as I was listening to a radio interview with Governor Kunin I spotted this headline from Europe: “EU court: Workers sick on leave can get extra time off.” Seems a court has decided that workers in the European Union, whose companies must already give them four weeks of paid vacation, are entitled to additional paid leave as compensation if they get sick during their vacation.

Though this does raise the question of how to prevent fraud, it seems a logical conclusion – if, that is, you consider time off work a fairly basic right, rather than a grudging privilege as it is in the U.S., where workers’ rights are relatively trivialized.

Gov. Kunin cited a conversation she had with women visiting from Ecuador who were shocked that our government didn’t guarantee paid maternity leave. Welcome to Benightistan, ladies.