Social Democrats TD for Wicklow Jennifer Whitmore has today offered her support to a group of mothers who formed the Extend Maternity Campaign and who are calling for the extension of Maternity Leave and pay by three months.
Deputy Whitmore met with campaigners and members of the National Women’s Council of Ireland (NWCI) outside Leinster House during a photocall this morning, echoing their call for the extension.
She said: “Covid19 has highlighted existing inequalities for women in this country and it is time that the Government acknowledged this, first and foremost by extending Maternity Leave and pay to help mothers transition back into work.
“Covid-19 has presented so many challenges for parents in this State, particularly for new mothers who have had to deal with double isolation from being at home with a small baby and not being able to meet with family and friends. Many mothers in Wicklow have contacted me to describe the loneliness they’ve felt during long days under lockdown when they couldn’t visit friends, family, parks or mother and baby groups.”
Deputy Whitmore added: “New mothers during Covid-19 have also been forced to go it alone, often giving birth without their partner or attending scans on their own. During a lot of the chaos and confusion at the height of lockdown, many new babies missed appointments for vaccinations and developmental checks so giving that extra bit of time to new mothers would help them catch up on some of these important check-ups for their child.
“Many of these mothers are due to return to work and are struggling to find childcare arrangements that suit them. They are now having to contend with limited creche spaces as providers have scaled down to manage Covid-19 health and safety protocols or have not been able to retain staff. Some have already been forced to resign from work because they could not secure childcare arrangements before returning.
“We have a fundamental problem with gender inequality in this country. Extending Maternity Leave and pay is an opportunity for this Government to show they are serious about addressing the barriers facing women, particularly those that have manifested during to Covid-19. Parents and mothers in particular have been at the crossroads of the numerous State responses to the crisis, a response that has failed to address the reality of mothers and women during this pandemic in terms of childcare, education and health.”
Deputy Whitmore concluded: “I urge the Government to acknowledge this first and foremost by extending Maternity Leave and pay for three months.”
7th July 2020