‘Falling on deaf ears’ Lack of women in Parliament means mothers’ issues ignored

Question Time: Stella Creasy hits out at HS2 cuts

We use your sign-up to provide content in ways you’ve consented to and to improve our understanding of you. This may include adverts from us and 3rd parties based on our understanding. You can unsubscribe at any time. More info

Joeli set up Pregnant then Screwed in 2015, following her own experiences of facing discrimination after falling pregnant. When Joeli was four months pregnant with her first child, she told her employer she was expecting and was sacked the next day by voicemail. She found a lawyer to help her to fight her case but was then told that she was having a high-risk pregnancy, and needed to reduce stress from her life, so she had to back down to give her baby the best chance of survival. She said: “In the space of about two weeks, I found myself going from everything being great, I was employed, doing really well in my career, had a baby on the way and I was really happy about it, to it being the end of everything.

“I had no job. I had no income. I thought my career was over. I thought the baby was gonna die.”

Joeli said the extremity of this situation, combined with the fact that after speaking to other mothers she found that many of them had faced similar discrimination, radicalised her and thus, Pregnant Then Screwed was born.

Pregnant Then screwed campaigns for “radical change to the lives of working mothers” in five key areas: properly paid paternity leave, affordable, good quality childcare, for all job adverts to have to list flexible working options, access to justice and a solution to non-disclosure agreements.

However, the charity believes that its campaigns are often ignored by MPs, so Joeli and her team set up “This Mum Votes”, a project aimed at getting more mothers into Parliament.

This Mum Votes aims to get more mothers elected by giving them mentoring on how to navigate the world of becoming an MP and providing them with financial and childcare support.

Joeli said: “We’ve been campaigning on these areas for six years, and most of these core campaigns that would make such an enormous difference in the lives of women just fall on deaf ears.

“It feels like they’re not getting anywhere, that ministers are just batting them away.

“They’re not interested. During the pandemic, it was very clear that the decisions were being made by men. The war cabinet was made up of men.

“The people delivering the daily briefings were all men, gender wasn’t mentioned once in the SAGE meetings, so it was very apparent that the voices of women were just not being listened to, particularly the voices of mothers.

“There just simply aren’t enough mothers in Parliament and motherhood is a massive barrier to becoming an elected official in any capacity.

“And so the only way you’re going to really change things is by changing the demographic of the people that make the decisions.”

This Mum Votes was set up with the help of Labour MP Stella Creasy, who last month was reprimanded for bringing her three-month-old baby into Parliament, despite the fact that she was denied maternity cover since democracy demands that no one could substitute for her.

DON’T MISS: Investigation shows misogynistic content widespread on social media

                    Poll: Female motorists face sexism this often on average

                    UK recruits for trial of Covid drug tipped to slash hospitalisations

Joeli said that many women are put off standing for election due to the lack of maternity cover, citing a poll that Pregnant Then Screwed put out on social media on November 30.

The poll, which ran for 24 hours, asked the question “does a lack of maternity cover for MPs put you off starting a career in politics?” and had only ‘yes’ or ‘no’ answer options.

The charity asked that only women take part in the poll which got 30,000 responses, 65 percent of which were ‘yes’ answers.

Pregnant then Screwed did a lot of campaigning during the pandemic and managed to persuade the Government to change a number of rules which had initially ignored the needs of mothers.

For example, it got the Government to exclude under-fives from the rule of two, so that mothers could meet up with another person and campaigned for the creation of childcare bubbles, which allowed women to carry on working during lockdowns.

The charity also took the Government to court over the Self-Employed Income Scheme as the way that it was calculated meant that if you had had a period of maternity leave over the last three years, you were given far less money than if you had not.

Although it lost the case overall, the Court of Appeal ruled that the scheme had discriminated against young mothers.

Moving forward, Pregnant Then Screwed would like as part of the COVID inquiry, a specific inquiry into the way pregnant women were treated during the pandemic since the charity feels that they were largely ignored.

Joeli said that the Government’s handling of pregnant women resulted in “unnecessary deaths” of women who were having babies, something which she described as being “tragic.”

She said: “Had the government done things differently, then the number of deaths would be fewer. And so we really want to see a specific inquiry to make sure nothing like this ever happens again.”

Joeli said that there are many difficulties that mothers face when trying to succeed not only in Parliament, but also in many other careers, but that Pregnant Then Screwed are on hand to help.

She said: “The system doesn’t work for mothers. It doesn’t. We know that there are many barriers that women headbutt from the point that they get pregnant or even before they get pregnant just for having a uterus that prevents them from progressing in the same way that men can progress”

“What I would say to women is be aware of those barriers, know that they exist, know your legal rights and use them where you can and if you if you come across any form of discrimination in the workplace, then give us a call and we’ll help you and talk you through it and do everything we can to make sure that it doesn’t mean you lose your career as a result.”

Source: Read Full Article