Tag Archives: pregnancy

Congratulations, Jacinda

It was lovely to hear that the Prime Minister of New Zealand is pregnant. What more extraordinary proof that women can have it all.

Even for political minnows though going back after six weeks as she plans is a tall order.

Hopefully her eminence means that she will have a fantastic support system in place. For those of us small fry activists who have to write our own leaflets, print them, pay for them and deliver them delivering a baby at the same time and fending off the hostility for having “deserted” our post is pretty tough going.

It is amazing how having a baby exerts such strong feelings in others. Lovely ones like protectiveness, joy and empathy but also hideous ones like jealousy, misogyny and even revulsion. It is salutary to note that pregnancy is a time when women are most in danger from domestic violence. When I was a pregnant parliamentary candidate I could scarcely believe how downright rude people could be: “a walking caesarean”, “oh not another one”, “have you got another one in there?” (and that was just the Lib Dems!) This was a decade ago and I really hoped that the climate had changed so it was depressing to see that very recently the Labour MP Luciana Berger was greeted with derision for supposed absences when she was breastfeeding.

Perhaps a good way forward is to have proper protocols for maternity leave for politicians at all levels. According to a recent report a mind blowing 97% of councils have no formal procedures to allow councillors to take maternity leave.

I drafted the following for our own party and would welcome your thoughts.

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged and | 9 Comments

Pregnant pause

Ruth BrightHere is a picture of a woman. There is something strange about her. Can you spot it? Well of course you can. She is from a very small and curious minority. She is a Liberal Democrat activist! The bump? Well that puts her in a numerically far more significant group. 700,000 women in this country have a baby each year. Having a baby is a normal thing to do. All the time people are saying that they want more candidates to be “normal” people. But being a pregnant candidate some years ago made me feel that I was in a freak show, the ultimate “elephant in the room”. Sadly I do not think that things in the party have changed very much.

Here are my top 6 clumsy attitudes to my “political” pregnancy:

  • Doing a speech and being told by a former councillor that I mustn’t get too big;
  • Being told by a former PPC’s wife at a party fundraiser that I was “a walking caesarean”;
  • “Oh no not another one”- reaction from a party chair when he spotted my second pregnancy;
  • “I’m afraid I could spot you all the way down the corridor” – party veteran at the Commons when I was 8 months pregnant;
  • “Have you got another one in there?” comment from local treasurer at my failure to shift the post-baby weight
  • Removal of my baby birth announcement from the local party website as it might help my imminent re-selection (!).
Posted in News | Also tagged , and | 26 Comments

Jo Swinson on media coverage of pregnant women, sexism and having to ask to get ministerial job

On Friday, Jo Swinson spoke at a training day for women run by Omnicom UK, which Media Week reported. She gave a bit of an insight into how you get a ministerial job in, at least, our party. I have to say I was surprised:

It took Swinson a long time to realise that she had to ask to become a minister. “I thought I’d do a good job and then I’d get promoted,” she said. “It took me a while to realise I had to go and make the case.”

I’d like to know a bit more about this one. You wouldn’t expect things to be any different for the men in this party, but did Mike Moore, Ed Davey, Vince Cable, Danny Alexander, Norman Lamb and co actually have to go to Nick and say: “I’m here, this is what I can do, pick me.” Nick is generally very good on issues relating to equality. He’s championed shared parental leave for years, he’s expanded childcare, he’s spoken out on violence against women and girls. What he hasn’t done is put a woman in the Cabinet, despite the fact that some of the best performers in the government have been people like Lynne Featherstone and Jo herself.

We’ve seen recently from the appalling commentary on Rachel Reeves’ pregnancy that highly sexist attitudes exist in the media and amongst the people who make our laws. Jo said that such coverage makes her furious.

Posted in News | Also tagged and | 7 Comments
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