This week, like every week, I have had some really interesting conversations with mothers, and parents, who are at different stages on their 'parenting and work' juggling journey.
One lady told me that she had pretty much worked for free for three years, due to childcare costs. She chose to keep working, despite her entire salary going straight into paying for childcare, because she - understandably - wanted to still have her career once her children had started school. While this is by no means acceptable, she is one of the lucky ones who had a partner, who could cover ALL the other living costs. Not everyone has that option, and shouldn't have to in the 21st century...
As a recent survey pointed out, working mothers in the U.K are twice as likely as fathers/partners to consider quitting their job due to childcare costs. In the The Guardian at the weekend, Clea Skopeliti published an article where she referred to this recent survey commissioned by women's rights group the Fawcett Society and Totaljobs, a survey of 3,000 parents with children under four.
“Government efforts to reduce the cost and increase the accessibility of childcare can’t come soon enough. The UK has some of the highest childcare costs in the world, so it comes as no surprise that this has so much impact on mothers’ participation in the workforce. The UK simply can’t afford to continue to cut corners on what is essential economic infrastructure.” - Jemima Olchawski, the chief executive of the Fawcett Society.
"Not only do working parents need more support but we need to ensure this support extends to the people who need it the most.” - Jane Lorigan, Chief Executive of Totaljobs.
A GOV.UK spokesperson said: “We are delivering the single biggest investment in childcare in England’s history, providing 30 hours a week for working parents from nine months old up to when they start school, all backed by £8 billion a year once fully rolled out.”
While I live in the U.K. and this survey spoke with mothers here, you don't have to go far to realise that gender equality is an ongoing priority in other countries too. Just take a look at
Iceland last month, where thousands of women took part in the 'Women's Day Off' strike in the streets of Reykjavík along with Iceland's Prime Minister Katrín Jakobsdóttir who said: “As you know, we have not yet reached our goals of full gender equality and we are still tackling the gender-based wage gap, which is unacceptable in 2023. We are still tackling gender-based violence, which has been a priority for my government to tackle,”
We can do better.
We must do better.
We owe it to ourselves, we owe it to our children.