The Essence of Mother’s Day
Mother’s Day is a day for honoring mothers and their significance in society. It was first proposed by Anna Jarvis in 1908 and has since grown to become a global holiday. Mother’s Day is celebrated on different dates depending on the country. In the United States, for instance, Mother’s Day 2023 will take place on the 14th of May, while Thailand celebrates Mother’s Day in August on the birthday of their queen, Sirikit.
Similar to Christmas, Easter, and Valentine’s Day, this holiday feeds into consumer spending. People opt for flowers, plants, gift cards, greeting cards, salon appointments, and jewelry, using money as a means for expressing their feelings. But if we really want to show mothers how much we appreciate them, it should go beyond material gifts and consider the meaning behind this important day.
As we celebrate Mother’s Day, let us not forget the history of women and their roles as mothers, the obstacles they have faced as well as their achievements.
The Fight for Justice and Equality for Mothers
Throughout the centuries, mothers have been portrayed in extremes – from being “an angel in the house” to “a devoted housewife”. In the 70s, the women’s liberation movement emerged, but the notion of working mothers was yet to be accepted. In the following decade, for instance, the Australian government signed the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW), which had its shortcomings. Women faced a lengthy set of challenges in their daily lives, including criticism for wanting to stay at home and take care of their children full-time. In the 90s, mothers were allowed to take up to 12 weeks of paid time off for parental leave. Still, achieving a balance between work and home seemed like an arduous task, and the frustration caused by the popular (skewed) beliefs along with the lack of support made women key participants in social change.
Just take the “woman’s movement” into account, which emerged in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, led by feminists such as Louisa Lawson and Rose Scott. These activists highlighted motherhood as the premise for their requests, which included improved life conditions, voting representation, and other political rights. South Australia was the first one to grant voting rights to women in 1894. Another key historical event was Maternity Allowance, established in 1912. Maternity Allowance is a benefit “paid by the government to pregnant women who don’t qualify for Statutory Maternity Pay” Mothers can claim MA if they are employed or self-employed after 26 weeks of their pregnancy.
Raising a child, however, is a full-time job in itself, and while at home, women are still supposed to take on both childcare and home responsibilities. Such understanding of family roles is rooted in social conditioning that taught us the household is financially supported by a man while the mother stays at home and devotes her days to their house and children. How to unlearn these values and in general, help relieve the stress mothers undergo on a daily basis?
Ways to Empower Mothers
Break out of social conditioning
The pressure put on mothers is closely related to the social system of beliefs and values. If girls value marriage over education, for example, it is because they have been taught so by their parents. In addition, children might have learned to keep quiet about their experiences related to abuse as their mothers did the same in the past. The more these beliefs are passed on to future generations, the harder they are to escape. Instead of blindly listening to the loud voices of patriarchy, mothers should be vocal about their struggles and work on reclaiming their power and freedom. They are obliged to teach their daughters to actively fight for their freedom and rights.
Government measures for supporting mothers
The gender pay gap has persisted for centuries and is yet to be closed. Factors such as access to education, occupational segregation, and gender discrimination in hiring all contribute to the difference in men’s and women’s salaries. This data is discouraging not only for mothers and women but also everyone who may want to have children in the future. Governments are responsible for implementing measures like equal job opportunities, access to a wider range of jobs, bridging the wage gap, providing specialization courses, and overall empowering women to grant them better conditions even after they welcome newborns into their lives.
Aid educational choices and encourage young girls’ career ambitions
Women have come a long way in terms of occupying traditional “male” jobs and gaining representation in the workplace, but the work continues. Education opens doors toward well-paid jobs and financial independence. Through proper upbringing, credible resources, and even volunteer opportunities, every mother (and woman) can work on inspiring girls to be successful and enable them to pursue the careers they desire.
Ivana Tubić is a 27-year-old English language teacher born and raised in Belgrade, Serbia. She is also a poet in her spare time and her work explores the human connection, feelings of longing and nostalgia, and the impact of social media, and occasionally comments on some social and political events. Her other interests include writing, pop music and pop culture, drawing, and watching commentary videos on YouTube. Her IG handle is @poemsbyivana, where she posts her writings and the accompanying visuals.