I joined hundreds of other passionate parents yesterday in supporting the pioneering Joeli Brearley’s Pregnant Then Screwed’s March of the Mummies-a maternal rights demonstration. The London march saw us gather at Trafalgar Square before marching to Parliament Square and presenting MPs with 5 reasonable demands for change we hope will be motioned immediately.
Other sister marches took place simultaneously in Belfast, Cardiff, Glasgow, Newcastle and Manchester with many women dressed up as Egyptian mummies to represent the archaic legislation currently confining and preventing many from working and raising a family.
Pregnant Then Screwed protects, supports and promotes the rights of mothers who suffer the effects of systemic, cultural, and institutional discrimination and they offer a free legal advice service, a website where women share their stories of discrimination anonymously, lobbying the Government for legislative change, and a mentor scheme that supports women who are considering legal action against their employer. They offer vital support to many.
As their website states, ‘54,000 women lose their jobs for getting pregnant and 390,000 working mums experience negative and potentially discriminatory treatment at work each year. These numbers have doubled in a decade. Far from improving the situation for working mums is rapidly deteriorating’.
Joeli conceived March of the Mummies as a means to push legislative change.
Hordes of parents gathered, kids in tow, chanting all the way to Parliament Square in what was an incredibly empowering protest.
MPs Kate Green, Jess Philips, Afzhal Khan, Jo Stevens and Mike Amesbury were also in attendance.
Moving speeches followed including frank words from my good friend, actress and filmmaker Manjinder’s Virk‘s own experience of combining motherhood in the film and television industry.
I could relate to Manjinder’s fear of revealing pregnancy in a male-dominant industry as I personally left TV directing in 2010 after the birth of my first son. The inflexible hours and inequalities of the workforce left me no choice. Blogging and vlogging was the rewarding answer to the problem for me. 12 hours on set was incompatible with family life but working hard on my blog around my family, remotely is stimulating and offers me financial security.
I love what I do now and am dedicated to helping other parents seize this gloriously democratic digital space, but as my good friend, the brilliant Ursula of Mumbelievable rightly said yesterday, ‘Not everyone wants to work online’…And for many of us, our choices are eradicated due to the current system.
Change must happen.
The 5 demands place to support us ALL are:
- Increase the time limit to raise a tribunal claim from 3 months to (at least) 6 months
- Require companies to report on how many flexible working requests are made and how many are granted
- Give both parents access to 6 weeks parental leave paid at 90% of salary
- Give the self-employed access to statutory shared parental pay
- Subsidise childcare from 6 months old, rather than 3 years
I hope we’ve reached a tipping point socially and culturally and that change is imminent, for our sakes and our children’s.
The majority of the photos are by Pooks and Gooks Photography.