Wean’s World

wp_main-cuteBy Fiona MacInnes

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.

womenandgirls

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.

* * * * *

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/



Categories: Women

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9 replies

  1. This is a concept that we need far more people to ‘get’ before September.
    I’m not a sociologist, I’m not a woman and I’m not even a parent but even I can see what’s wrong with this picture.
    I spent 22 years dealing with some of the symptoms caused by the dysfunctional neoliberal ideology without seeing any tangible improvement
    It’s time for a new system that actually possesses humanity and as far as I can see there is only one way at the moment in which we can even contemplate change.
    That is to vote YES.
    All else will follow.

  2. Well said Fiona, my Mother was lucky in a way, she had to work, and fortunately she had taken on her sister’s child (me) after her death so was able to get me into the local nursery. Now that was not common in my day, born 1947 started school 1952. As an only child it built my confidence and made starting school so much easier and in my day you started learning, not playing as soon as you joined the big school. Now at least most children get some form of nursery education but still child care is desperately needed. Most women need to work, just as my Mother did, even more because most women have jobs which require they work full time that the cost of children at school even, is according to my sister in law, extortionate, with the need for breakfast clubs and after school clubs. Let us hope that women realise what an opportunity they can have simply by putting their cross in the YES box.

  3. The ideas in the White Paper I believe are do-able. They may be difficult to introduce especially concerning child care as the jobs need to be there as well. But compared to the stagnant ‘more austerity policies’ of the Better Together campaign and let’s be fair to them they all say we need more austerity, the future can only look a lot brighter with a Yes vote

  4. My heart tells me ta vote Yes for independence , yet my mind tells me what better are we gan ta be if we just reverse giving our wealth ta westminster, over ta the rotten EU which in reality is worse only the wealthy is going ta benifit , would salmond and sturgeon be so stupid as ta allow doing this just ta sit on the top table of a sinking SHIP ,time for salmond and snp tell the scottish people how much millions a day they are gan ta send ta the eu each week so come on SPIT IT OOT PIT OOR MINDS AT REST GAIN MORE VOTES FOR THE TRUTH , WEVE BEEN 300 YEARS OF BEING LIED TO BA WESTMINSTER ???

  5. I went back to work when my daughter was 3yrs (1976) . Back then no nursery would accept infants till they were at least 3yrs and fully toilet trained. There was no public funded nursery places in my locality. Money was tight so I needed to work and did so till I was 65yrs. I now look after my grandchild to allow my daughter to return to work. It is rewarding but definitely very hard going. Nursery charge £25 per half day session costing my daughter >£300 a month for 3 mornings a week – if she paid out any more it would be unaffordable to work. The free sessions which the Scottish Government legislated for come into force next year when she is 3yrs and by that time I’ll be glad to cut down on my input. The childcare plan as outlined in White Paper is long overdue, mind you it needs fleshing out a bit but I’m sure that will happen after Yes win.

  6. Thanks for this article, Fiona – as a lone parent, it really chimes with me and I can certainly add my voice to the urgent need for affordable childcare so that women can, if they wish or need to do so, play a role in the workforce. And it doesn’t just benefit families, lone parents, the economy, and the kids themselves. It just makes sense. You cite Denmark as an example. Other European countries, too, have excellent and affordable childcare provisions. An independent Scotland can do so much better.

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