March of the Mummies

Pregnant Then Screwed’s March of the Mummies Protest, Leeds

March of the Mummies

(photo by Brand Stories by Lucille)

Over 1000 of us marched today in Leeds joining 15000 parents nationally in Pregnant Then Screwed’s #Marchofthemummies demanding government reform on 3 key issues: increased funding for the childcare sector to enable affordable, high quality childcare, ring-fenced maternity and paternity leave and flexible working as a default.

The wonderful Sita of Mamas Got Moves‘ flashdance to musician Becky Owen‘s Working To Pay song, at the Town Hall preceeded speeches.

I was honoured to give a speech and have shared it below:

March of the Mummies

(photo by Lucille Moore)

Other speeches (empowering and moving in equal measure, every one) were made by West Yorkshire Mayor Tracy Brabin; Patricia Hamilton, an academic whose work explores reproduction, parenting and family from the perspective of black families and other marginalised groups; Deputy leader of Women’s Equality Party, Dr Hannah Barham-Brown; Dr Jacki Willson, an Associate Professor in Performance and Gender at the University of Leeds and Dr Ernestine Gheyoh Ndzi, an expert in shared parental leave.

march of the mummies

Thank you Joeli Brearley for galvanising us all and relentlessly campaigning and thanks to everyone who ensured today ran seamlessly.

Pregnant Then Screwed march Pregnant Then Screwed march Pregnant Then Screwed march Pregnant Then Screwed march

march of mummies

(photo by Lucille Moore)

My speech: Hi I’m Vicki Broadbent, mum of 3 including an almost 1 year old baby, I’m a blogger at Honestmum and author of Mumboss. I changed careers after working hard to become a filmmaker and tv director (only 4% of female directors then) I found 12 hour days on set impossible with a baby. I quickly came to know why so few women were behind the camera.

I was lucky to start a blog in 2010 as the digital sector started to ppexplode. I still mourn the loss of a career I loved however despite working in this new field. I should never have had to pivot careers. Like everyone marching today, 15000 across the UK, we’re here because we’re angry because as mothers we’re being set up to fail. I’ve had a baby in my 20s, 30s and 40s and haven’t witnessed any real change to the infrastructure of the workplace when it comes to working parents and I’m here to take a stand, in the city I was born in, in the same city which forced my own mother to stop teaching when I was a baby because of an inflexible workplace. I’m almost 42 and in all those years there’s been so little progress. I can’t let that be the same for my own daughter and sons. Most households need 2 incomes to survive yet we live in a society where it’s impossible for most women to work after children. We have the second most expensive childcare system in the developed world. It’s why I’ve relocated back to Leeds, to lean on grandparental support with three kids so that there’s any point to returning to a business I’ve grown over 12 years, a business I didn’t want to walk away from. Why are mothers and working mothers devalued by society and the government? We’ve been gaslit, made to feel inadequate because the standards and circumstances we’ve been forced to endure are set up to make us fail. Let’s take that in shall we. We are being set up to fail.

I used to like the terms superwoman and super mum because I thought they were inspiring and empowering and whilst I’m sure whoever invented them was well meaning, they trouble me now because they’re a foil, a trick: a faux reward to make you into a martyr. To make you suffer.

We are given the short straw in work and in life as parents (I know I personally had kids because I want to actually see them). We are forced to work like we don’t have kids and parent like we don’t work (paraphrasing Amy Westervelt) measured by unreasonable standards which are breaking us down and burning us out.

Extortionate childcare costs in an underpaid sector (with childcare providers disbanding because fast food chains pay more than what they’re receiving as childcare providers) means many of us (looking at social media), are forking out 21k minimum for part time childcare and 37k+ minimum for full time childcare for the pre-school years.

The Family and Childcare Trust state that in 2021 in the UK, the average cost of sending a child under the age of two to nursery is:* £137.69 a week part-time (25 hours)

* £263.81 a week full-time (50 hours). That’s over £500 a month part time!!!!

Then once at school, wrap around support is often required. The average cost for families using an after-school club for five days is £62 a week.

Source: Childminder and nursery costs from Family and Childcase Trust 2021

This is the work tax we don’t hear enough about. The penalty of trying to progress in a career or have a career at the very least.

No wonder the workplace is haemorrhaging mothers. Why go back with those exorbitant costs?

To only receive subsided support for many for 15 or 30 hrs when your child is 3 year old means 3 whole years away from the workplace postnatally.

After 9 months Mat leave on an a heavily reduced workload I felt lacking in confidence and feeling ‘out of work mode’ so I can’t imagine how I’d feel after 3 years away. Disconnected, anxious and unable to return.

As I mentioned, this is one of the reasons I’ve returned to Leeds: for the support of my parents. To rediscover the village it takes to raise a family and support a working mother.

But my situation isn’t everyone’s. I’m one of the lucky one. No parent should be navigating this . The government are failing us. They’re making us economically fragile and they’re failing our relationships, our children, our mental and physical health, our contribution to the economy and our potential. We deserve more. We’re raising the future who can’t raise themselves, and the future cannot look like this for them. Thank you.

(Professional photos by Lucille Moore Brand Photographer).

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