Modern Motherhood


Leading lawyer and committed campaigner for women’s rights, and 4Children Patron Cherie Blair CBE, reflects on the ways in which life has changed beyond recognition for many families over the last 30 years, particularly when it comes to the place of women in the workplace.

This essay, part of a series celebrating 4Children’s 30th year, sees Blair identify that these changes, including increasing availability of childcare, have undoubtedly made it easier for parents to juggle work and family life, with a significant rise in the number of mothers in the workforce. Yet, she argues, cultural assumptions about the roles of men and women, business and social arrangements have not caught up.

Blair asks if it matters that progress over thirty years has been so slow? Her answer is a resounding yes: “Failing to remove the barriers which help us make the most of everyone’s talents and potential is remarkably short-sighted for both societies and companies. This is not just about numbers but also the qualities that women can bring to decision-making.

“The real changes in maternity and paternity leave, the availability of flexible working and the growth in availability of childcare were all responses to these changes and are now part of the architecture of our daily lives. As we look forward to the next 30 years we need to see some equally big changes not just in structures or laws but in attitudes, practices and approaches.”

Blair concludes by making some practical suggestions for reforms that I believe are achievable and won’t cost the earth, including the idea of mentoring programmes; measures to help mothers back on to the ‘ramp’ into employment after having a baby or a stay at home period; supporting parents who want to prioritise full time caring for a period when their children are young; and creating a long-term vision for achieving Universal childcare provision for all parents.

Download the pamphlets published as part of a lecture series to celebrate 4Children's 30th year:

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