Please don’t make me pick between career and kids
What could be scarier than hundreds of mummies descending on six of the biggest cities in the UK? How about the very real fear that many women face every day? The fear that they have to pick between a long sought-after career and their wish to have children.
This was the reason behind a very significant march last month. On Halloween hundreds of women dressed as mummies (get it?) marched for the rights of working mothers in the UK. The campaign group Pregnant then Screwed organised the event. Their website provides a platform for women to anonymously share their stories of discrimination and provides free legal advice.
Dubbed the March of the Mummies, this series of demonstrations aimed to highlight the plight of the 54,000 women each year being pushed out of their job for being pregnant and further 77% of working mums enduring continued discriminatory treatment in the workplace. According to a recent report from the Equality and Human Rights Commission one in nine new mothers said they had been forced out of their jobs.
I have on many occasions tried to explain to male friends and family, why I as a 24-year-old have attempted to plan my life 10 + years in advance. Knowing that I want to have children one day - and tying that in with building a meaningful career - terrifies me. What if I went on maternity leave and found my job no longer existed when I wanted to return? Where in my ever-detailed career plan would I find the time to have children?
This march, with celebrity backers such as the BBC’s Helen Skelton and actor Manjinder Virk has really opened my eyes to what some women have been through simply because they want to have jobs and babies.
Clearly, I’m one of the lucky ones. I have a flexible job with an incredibly understanding MD and the ability to work remotely. But what happens if you’re not as lucky as me? You can put in decades of work, 9 to 5, Monday to Friday, collating valuable contacts and smashing targets left, right and centre. You could be at the top of your game, but the second you announce your pregnancy, it could all be over in a flash.
Some of the testimonials on the Pregnant then Screwed website read like horror stories. These tales of women having workloads tripled in the days after announcing pregnancies, being made redundant while on maternity leave, generally being made to feel invisible in the workplace are not fiction.
Even though pregnancy is not on my horizons, it’s young women like me who will reap the benefits of campaign groups and protests such as these. So please, keep marching. Keep signing the petitions. Keep speaking out. Because my generation and future generations, simply want to have the option to have children and work. Please don’t make us choose between being productive members of the workforce or procreation.