top of page


Happy Mother's Day

Written by: Mary Howden & Claire Loneraghan

We haven’t been told to call it “Birthing Person’s Day”. Not yet. But the attack on our language, on our ability to define ourselves and to describe our experiences as uniquely female, are relentless.

Women’s Rights Network tweeted some recent examples of requests – or are they demands? – to deny that motherhood is a distinctly female experience. And a defining one for many women.

The belittling of our concerns is a symptom of the problem that we are up against. That women’s concerns about our experience don’t really matter, and don’t need to be taken seriously. Even when we provide evidence, it’s “not enough” or “not the right kind of evidence”. Why can’t we just be kind and be inclusive.

Oxfam is “inclusive”

Oxfam believes that working in “diverse communities across the world”, treating people with kindness and dignity is vital. Apart from women who object to losing our words, it seems.

Someone should remind Oxfam that every language has a word for “mother”, and it isn’t divisive or exclusionary to use it.

And yet across the world governments, academia, the civil service and others are removing the word “mother” from official paperwork, teaching materials and the law.

Not even midwifery is safe in New Zealand...

Nor are new mothers in Australia...

Is the NHS above such nonsense? Of course not!

Academics at Napier University not only excluded “women” and “mothers” from birthing, they chose to include men 🙄

Some people – men and women – ask why we make such a fuss about such things. That it’s only words. That nobody is trying to remove our words anyway.

We say it matters.

It matters because concise and accurate language is important in law, in education and in science.

It matters, because language that is muddled and unclear excludes women who need to know about issues that affect them. Particularly women who are not well educated, who are not part of the elite who make up these new language rules, and women who speak English as a second language.

It matters, because if we do not object, if we let them do as they wish, we are complicit in our own erasure.

And we’re not going to let that happen.

bottom of page