Tag Archives: maternity discrimination

Why I didn’t announce that I was pregnant before the end of the regional selection process

In August, my husband James, and I had the wonderful surprise of discovering that we were expecting a baby. We were over the moon as we were waiting for this little bundle of joy for a certain time.

After the emotion and the joy came quickly in my mind the question of “When should I announce it to everybody?” Obviously, the close family will know soon enough but a bigger shadow came to hover over my head.

At that time, I was in the middle of my regional selection process for next year’s Scottish election. It took me a lot of confidence and preparation to get where I was and I was scared that the announcement of my pregnancy would deter some of our own members to vote for me.

Being a “young” woman in politics (I would thank some members of the Scottish Young Liberals to have labelled me as such – they will recognise themselves) is not an easy task and full of hurdles even within your own party. When you get passed the idea of being young equals not having enough experience (which qualifies as “ageism” – yes, it goes two ways). When you overcome stereotypes such as “being a woman doesn’t give you enough gravitas/charisma” (I am not going into what I heard the last couple of leadership elections) or “you are over ambitious” (yes, for real). And let’s not talk of the casual sexism of “you should smile more”, “dress less/more lurid” (do you remember the press scandal over the talk between Theresa May and Nicola Surgeon more about their dress code than the content?) you can hear in the media but even by some members of your own party.

With all those comments, my thoughts were how a certain part of our membership is going to react when I announce that I am pregnant?  How will it influence their votes? Unfortunately, pregnancy discrimination is still rooted in our society and in politics. I remember one of our candidates being told by a member of the public in October last year that she was a bad mother to go campaigning with a baby. That remark shocked me and made me wonder how society is still judgemental and discriminatory towards women and mothers. The worst feeling was: it was a woman who made this comment!

One thing is certain in my mind is: YES, I am going to run to be a constituency MSP in Dunfermline and as a regional MSP (if the votes are on my favour) in Mid Scotland and Fife. And, NO, it won’t hinder my passion and my motivation to be the voice for my future constituents and one of the torchbearers of our Liberal Democrat values in the Scottish Parliament.

After all, I have good role models to look to.

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged , , and | 10 Comments

LibLink: Jo Swinson: Like me, Jacinda Ardern took her baby to work and was met with ignorance

Last week Jacinda Ardern proved that when you are a mother, people will criticise you whatever you do. The moral of that story is that you should make the decisions that suit your family.

Jo Swinson wrote for the Guardian about her and Jacinda’s experiences and how they show we still have a long way to go to deal with discrimination in the workplace.

She highlighted the chorus of disapproval that she and Jacinda had been put through:

Yet along with the warm headlines came the inevitable snarky comments from the political world, and the constant judgment by others that is a hallmark of motherhood. Ardern was criticised for the cost of plane tickets after she made a special one-day trip to the Pacific Islands Forum in order to accommodate breastfeeding her baby, then 11 weeks old. Her daughter had to stay at home because she was too young for the necessary vaccinations, so her options were to either not go at all, or go for only a short time. Ardern summed it up perfectly: “If I didn’t go, I imagine there would have been equal criticism. Damned if I did, damned if I didn’t.”

Posted in LibLink | Also tagged | 1 Comment

Jo Swinson introduces Private Member’s Bill on parental leave

Well done to Lib Dem Deputy Leader Jo Swinson on introducing her Parental Leave and Pay Arrangements Private Member’s Bill yesterday in the Commons. Here she is talking about it:

This bill would require firms which employ more than 250 people to publish their data on parental leave and pay arrangements. As reported in the BBC

Ms Swinson said more than 54,000 women a year lose their jobs because of pregnancy and maternity discrimination, while fathers were worried about taking shared parental leave because of the negative effect on their careers.

Well done Jo on leading the charge! If enacted, this will greatly help parents and prospective parents up and down the country get the support they need from their workplaces.

Posted in News | Also tagged , , and | 4 Comments

WATCH Jo Swinson launch action plan on maternity discrimination

Yesterday, Jo Swinson, as chair of Maternity Action, helped to launch an action plan aimed at tackling maternity discrimination.

If you think that this stuff doesn’t go on any more, take an hour out to watch the video of the event and you will see that it very much does.  A woman called Amelia tells the shocking story of what happened to her when she told her employers she was pregnant.

The video is available on Maternity Action’s You Tube channel here. Unfortunately, it’s not embeddable here, but do go and watch it.

Here are some tweets from the event:

The number of women adversely affected each year is staggering:

Posted in News | Also tagged , , and | 3 Comments

Jo Swinson to speak at event launching Action Plan on tackling maternity discrimination

This Saturday, an alliance of groups including Maternity Action, chaired by former Lib Dem Minister Jo Swinson, launches an action plan aimed at tackling maternity discrimination. The event takes place at the excellent Resources for London venue in Central London, where the Social Liberal Forum Conference was held last July.

No matter where you live in the country, you can take part on Twitter by following #maternityrights and by watching the live stream here.

If you are able to go, you can still register here.

Here are some more details about the event:

Please come and join us as we launch our Action Plan to tackle pregnancy and maternity-related discrimination. Working together with a number of other organisations, under the group name the Alliance for Maternity Rights, we have developed a list of all the things that Government needs to do in order to tackle this shocking form of discrimination.

This issue affects women, children and their families, so bring your partners and your children and babies. We will have space to park buggies, a craft table for kids and refreshments for both children and adults.

The event will include a panel session with speakers from Maternity Action and NCT as well as hearing from a woman about her experiences of discrimination.  We will hear from:

Posted in News | Also tagged and | 3 Comments
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