When my children were young I never had time to read columns like this, I was like many women simply getting through each day surviving. Mothering is the most difficult job there is, emotionally draining, hard work, 24 hours and goes on interminably. The rewards are seeing your children grow, develop and eventually go off on their own journeys.
I hope the mother’s that are faced with the daily grind do take a minute to read this even if exhaustion leaves it hard to imagine yourself into something better.
I thought once that if everyone got a dishwasher, a washing machine and a decent night’s sleep as a right then life for women would be much better. Some do, because for them it’s easy to buy these including a nanny that ensures you are never irritable, or short- tempered.
It can be different and it is in other countries where money is spent on early childcare rather than bolting on ‘sticking plasters’ to troubled teenagers later. Women who want to work should be able do so knowing their children are well cared for in quality affordable nurseries.
As a mum I was lucky to have grandparents that took my young children at the drop of a hat for no cost. Without that I could not have worked or become an elected OIC councillor. Work is good for all people and especially women. Employment builds esteem and establishes financial independence, social contact outside the home and mental well-being.
However working for low pay which is the lot of most women traps us on a tread mill of long, anti social hours on minimum pay, (£270 per week is less than the daily allowance paid to a non-elected lords ).
I respect the choice of women who prefer to remain in the home. But for those who do seek work or must, there is an impossible catch 22 situation. Without a highly paid job childcare is unaffordable. Over one month it can be as high as £1400 for 2 toddlers full-time in Edinburgh yet just £500 in Copenhagen. Orkney is one of the lowest paid areas in the UK with an average wage of £17,000. Working as an elderly carer for £6.31 per hour, could never buy childcare. Creches and work place nurseries are missing from the Scottish work scene but think how enriching it would be for old folk to see babies and toddlers at a nursery attached to a care home.
Women all over the country have every right to expect decently paid jobs and affordable child care and they should also expect that their children will be entitled to equal chances and achieve their potential whatever that may be. When society dictates that your child must have the material things that others have and you can’t provide you feel a failure. The stress of struggle is often accompanied by depression, addiction and self –harm. When families are caught in poverty theses stresses can lead to emotional tensions and violence. Although domestic violence crosses all social divides it is often the cycle of strong over weak power dynamics that can come from a man’s work place into the home that results in secondary bullying of women and children. Bullying is endemic within society from early life right through to maturity.
The UK is 16th in the rankings of child well-being. Children surviving in struggling house-holds often use all their emotional energy keeping their own heads above water. They have little left to expend on school work. Their equal chance is lost well before they even begin. Inputting help at the start for all children reaps benefits and saves costs later on. Having happier, healthier confident children who can fully enjoy taking part in life and learning will colour a different society 20 years on. We simply must divert the billions from military weapons designed to kill other children to women nurturing the next generation. One fifth of children now live in poverty in Scotland –in some areas its one third, and forecast.to increase. We are the only developed country where the Red Cross are delivering food aid. We are one of the most unequal countries in the first world.
Inequality matters because it infuses all of our society, with envy, selfish personal acquisition, hopelessness and crime. More equal societies are happier so it is in the interests of the wealthy too to evolve a fairer society. Women can make this possible.
Those currently running the UK probably all have nannies, dishwashers and washing machines and pay for private education for their children. They know nothing of how most women survive.
A Yes vote for independence in September will give women the best hope of a turn-around for them and their children. Let’s turn money for killing into money for caring.
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Join Women for Independence here: http://www.womenforindependence.org
Read about the childcare proposals here: http://www.scotreferendum.com/questions/what-would-independence-mean-for-early-learning-and-childcare/