Working moms or fathers at office or out for an assignment, with kids in tow, prompt varied reactions from co-workers and our society. Some like to have this occasional distraction and cackle around in the office while many accuse such parents of spoiling the professional atmosphere of a workplace. But does one ever call a mother “gaudy” for letting her child — as young as three months old — accompany her to a work assignment? No. But if you’re are the Prime Minister of a country, you will earn this tag too.

New Zealand PM Jacinda Ardern took baby Neve to the UN assembly hall, where she addressed the plenary meeting — known as the Nelson Mandela Peace Summit. However, Ardern’s outing didn’t go down well with a couple of people, and one of them even called this public appearance with her baby “gaudy”.

 Ardern is only the second woman in world to have a baby while serving as a premier of any country

Which means people are not used to babies accompanying a Prime Minister at conferences or meetings. Even for mothers who are parliamentarians, taking their babies to the workplace, and feeding and changing them while voting on important bills does raise a few eyebrows. It doesn’t make the act showy. Instead, it shows the lack of acceptance to having a working new mom and her baby in your vicinity.

Be more accepting, and not so critical

It is not easy for any new mother to leave a three-month-old baby for work. Just a few days ago, Ardern faced criticism for making alterations to flight plans, so that she could spend one day less away from Neve. Why do people overlook how hard she is trying to balance motherhood and her duties towards her country? Calling her gaudy for taking her baby to a plenary meeting proves how some traditionalists are unwilling to be accommodative of a powerful young female leader who happens to be a new mother.

SOME TAKEAWAYS-

  • A person on Twitter called New Zealand PM Jacinda Ardern’s decision to take her baby for a UN meeting “gaudy”.
  • Some traditionalists are still unwilling to be accommodative of a powerful young female leader who happens to be a new mother.
  • It is this kind of criticism which creates a hostile environment for new mothers at the workplace.

It is this kind of criticism which creates a hostile environment for new mothers at the workplace

Their will to be more with their child is seen as a weakness — something which allegedly hampers their performance. On the other hand, if Ardern had chosen to travel sans her child, she would have been branded an irresponsible mother by some. There is just no winning for her. All this criticism because she chose to balance work and personal life. Aren’t there numerous working moms who make this choice every day? Just like Ardern, they face disapproval on similar lines from our society.

People often ask why women crib so much about work-life balance, and how it is so impossible to attain. The reason is not just that it physically wears them out, but the hostility which comes their way is mentally tiring

What they need is not dissection of every choice they make, but acceptance from their peers and society. If the sight of female MPs caring for their young children still amuses many or grabs headlines around the world, then it shows how little progress we have made to accommodate working new moms in professional spaces.

Besides, it is not the presence of children which affects a person’s professionalism, but how his or her colleagues react to the situation. Once we learn to accommodate young ones in a work environment, it will create a positive atmosphere. Women as influential and deserving as Ardern are breaking a lot of taboos. It is a cue for all of us to attune our work culture. That is the only way we can silence hostile comments like this from being made against a baby and her awe-inspiring mother.

Photo Credit: www.nbcnews.com

Also Read: Conceiving Sans A Living Partner: End Of Traditional Parenthood?

Yamini Pustake Bhalerao is a writer with the SheThePeople team, in the Opinions section.  The views expressed are the author’s own.

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