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Time for Parenting...

...because raising children is a full-time job

May 2001 Newsletter

Editorial; Daycare Damage; In Your Own Words; What The Papers Say; "Children: A Financial Forfeit"; Your Letters

Children a 'financial forfeit' says Minister

A work-centred vision of women's lives was conjured up by the speakers at 'Employment in the 21st century - family friendly policies' a seminar organised in March by the National Council of Women and British Federation of Women Graduates. Committee members Pat Dudley and Jane MacRae attended on behalf of FTM. Pat reports:

'We heard from Minister for Women (and past FTM speaker) Tessa Jowell about government policies designed to 'help women balance their family and working lives.' In other words, to go back to work as soon as possible! One phrase she used seemed to sum up Tessa Jowell's attitude- the "Financial Forfeit" women make by having children - as if bringing up children is a liability to be measured only in monetary terms. Jane asked why all policies are directed towards women at work and none to women at home - but she didn't get an answer.

Other speakers included the Deputy Chair of the Equal Opportunities Commission and the Chief Executive of Parents at Work (previously the Working Mothers Association). All emphasised the same point - both employers and Government should do more to encourage women back to work after having children. Parental and paternity leave should be paid; part time work or job shares should be offered - the key is "flexibility" . Practical difficulties for employers were dismissed. But as a recent Institute of Directors study shows, the danger is that employers will think twice about employing women of childbearing age - there is already some evidence that this is happening.

I asked what can be done to raise the status of women at home and what about the emotional well-being of the child?

In response, an NSPCC survey was quoted in which children of working mothers were asked if they mind their mothers working. Apparently the majority replied they didn't mind but they wished she wasn't so tired and preoccupied at home!

Jane and I were glad to be at the seminar - to speak for all those women who want to look after their own children and who feel ignored by Government policies. We felt that the children have been forgotten completely - they are just expected to fit into their mother's career plan.' Two members of your committee, Jane MacRae and Pat Dudley, attended this seminar.