Equality will not be Achieved without Flexibility

A shocking new poll shows that support for working mothers has actually fallen. Positive attitudes to working mother has fallen from 51% to 46% among women and from 45.9% to 42% among men. While we are still ahead of the US and Germany in our attitudes, it is still a worrying sign.

Ironically, one of the most effective ways of helping women balance both work and home life is to give men more rights. Don't get me wrong, I'm not a Fathers4Justice nutter. However, one of the Scandinavian countries has been able to help increase equality in the workplace by giving men similar maternity and paternity rights to women. This prevents firms from not hiring women because "they might get pregnant", as the CBI reminds us every time we try to have a sensible discussion. Of course it would have the added benefit of helping fathers to spend more time with their kids and to share the responsibility of raising them.

The important thing to remember, is that the suggestion that women cannot have a career and kids is completely false. Many women, many of them single mums, manage to balance the two responsibilites. Of course it's not easy, but they somehow manage to do so. Rather than reverting to 19th Century attitudes, we should be acknowledging the amazing job working mothers do and trying to help more women have the best of both worlds. The notion that women should only be homemakers has no place in the twenty-first Century, and the government must help combat it.

The government must help more with childcare costs, it could also allow companies to write the cost of running a company cresh off their tax bills. Childcare is of course the most obvious issue, but there are many others. The government needs to dramatically extend flexible working; this would be of enormous benefit to both male and female parents. Companies can also help by allowing normal staff to do part of their work from home so that they can work the same amount of hours in a week but without being in the building from 9am-5pm. Whilst the kids are doing homework, parents can do theirs.

The most important thing that needs addressed is the disgusting sexism that is dominant in the printed press and in some parts of society. Women undoubtably are able to work and raise children very successfully. Frankly, I have always thought that I missed out on a lot as a kid because my mother stayed home rather than going to work. As a result, I missed the social oportunities that are provided by nursary, my mother resented me and my sister as she had such a boring, unfulfilling life staying at home. It was good for no-one.

We have to keep fighting to change attitudes. Discrimination will always creep back if we grow complacent. There are enourmous benefits that come from working mothers and we must encourage people to learn of them. There is no doubt in my mind that I would expect neither myself or my partner to stop working if we had kids (although neither of us would be female), to do so would leave whoever did so unfulfilled, mentally and intellectually unstimulated and would deprive our child of the experience of their parents career.

The attitudes of society are ludicrus and must be tackled and changed. We have come so far with regards to creating an equal society, we must not give up now.

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