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Mother's Day: Good The Bad of Govt Policy

Motherhood: The good and the bad of government policy Mothers' day: Sunday, 9 May 04

"Mothers day is not just about the sentimentality of chocolates and country music, nor is it simply about commercial opportunity" said Parents Centre Chief Executive Viv Gurry. "It is also about reflecting on the role and status of mothers in our society."

"In taking a moment to think about motherhood we can see this Government has delivered a mixed bag of bouquets and brickbats for mothers day," Mrs Gurrey added.

The Governments poor record on motherhood is in the evidence:

a.. Mothers do not get a mention in the Action Plan for Women, which was release last month, unless we are in the paid workforce. Nor are we validated unless we contribute to GDP.

b.. Subsidies are provided so that mothers can work, but there are no incentive to encourage mothers to look after their own children.

c.. Some mothers have to pay someone else to look after their own children in their own homes, so they can work. Many of these mothers have been denied the choice to stay at home themselves.

d.. The Jobs Jolt scheme denies low income families the right to cheap housing and an opportunity to contribute to small town life because of a misplaced assertion that our national goal is 100% full employment, not 100% happy families.

e.. Many premature babies and their mothers are not sufficiently accommodated in wards which provide rooming in facilities. Too many mothers have to travel unreasonable distances everyday to feed their new babies.

f.. Parent education is not universally available.

g.. The debt burden of student loans is making motherhood a prohibitive choice for many young women. Women waiting longer to be mothers, and having fewer children is having a negative impact on our population outlook.

h.. Childhood is being institutionalised through Government investment in Early Childhood Education at the expense of active parenting.

However, a few good things are happening:

• The Baby Friendly Hospitals Initiative is being developed in several hospitals and maternity units around the country, as a means of actively promoting breastfeeding in recognisation that nothing beats mother's milk for a growing baby.

• The Ministry of Health is developing an education and information programme to encourage active birth and to reduce the rising rate of interventions.

• The Department of Labour's Work/Life Project should have a positive effect on the reduction of maternal stress in the workplace.

"It is time Government recognised the valuable contribution of mothers to our national well being and supported us in the choices we make in supporting our families."

"As mothers we demand Government create an environment conducive to mothers reclaiming the choice to raise their own children," Mrs Gurrey added.

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