Happy International Women’s day!

I’ve enjoyed celebrating International Women’s Day for years, but it’s certainly taken on a different, more tangible feel since I became a mum. Lovely though motherhood is it does make many aspects of life more complicated, more expensive and more difficult all round. And this makes me especially grateful for the hard won rights women before me fought for.

Child benefit, paid maternity leave, reproductive rights, choices in birthing, help with childcare costs, flexible working, equal pay… Ok, ok, so we still have some way to go on some of these and some are being put under threat by our current government.

But it’s only be appreciating the significance of what we do have that we can act to defend and expand our precious rights.

So I was really pleased to see an article in today’s Guardian comparing the options for mothers in the UK and the US. It’s a fascinating comparison and made me, once again, so glad to be here in the UK.

“Free birth control. Considering the current Republican assault on Planned Parenthood, such a benefit would surely cause mass chaos in America, but it’s one of the many things – including generous maternity leave, childcare benefits and healthcare – that women (and their families) receive in the UK without much, if any controversy. The American right often casts these privileges as indulgent or excessive, but what is clear when you witness them up close is the profound impact they have on ordinary women throughout the course of their lives, giving them choices that American women rarely get.”

For example, for women in the US, maternity leave is limited to a 12-week entitlement without pay. And this is only if your company is of a certain size. What??!? At twelve weeks Bub was still exclusively breastfed and waking every two hours all night. I guess I could have gone back to work if I’d absolutely had to but the personal sacrifice for both of us would have been enormous. No wonder so many of the great American mummy blogs I read feature stay at home mums. It’s clearly all but impossible to balance work and family there.

So here’s to IWD. A great time to remember and be thankful for what we have. But also a time to keep vigilant as we need to keep these rights for ourselves and our daughters.


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