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AFRICA FASHION WEEK NIGERIA

Monday, May 28, 2018

Bringing Up Baby: The Price Of Caring

Looking after children is simultaneously the most undervalued and yet unaffordable occupation there is. 
Photo source:- AliExpress

As a chubby, dungaree-wearing 13-year-old child I would sometimes look after the children, the loved, cherished, often
sole offspring of the couples in my neighbourhood: and earn less than their cleaners. Cleaning is, of course, proper work and should be fairly remunerated but I do remember feeling slightly askance, as I read a toddler their fourth bedtime story, that keeping their child alive was valued below, say, hoovering the stairs.

Nothing has changed. As a woman staying at home to raise a child, the very future of her country, I am earning a grand total of £20.70 per week. ‘So go back to work!’, I hear someone crow helpfully from the back row. Well, I can’t afford it. Because, oh holy sweet pork sweats: the price of nursery. The local authority number down the road is going to cost more than a mortgage. I would have to save up my family allowance for three weeks just to get on the waiting list for a private nursery. The cost of caring is, simply, untenable.


Really, I don't know why it has taken me this long to realise the gravity of the situation. I suppose nobody looks at nursery fees until they’re set to pay them. But of the four tenets put down at that first 1970 Women's Liberation Conference at Ruskin College, Oxford, arguably only the first has been met. And even that is open to debate.
1. Equal pay
2. Equal educational and job opportunities
3. Free contraception and abortion on demand
4. Free 24-hour nurseries
For 48 years, a near-life time, women have been arguing, campaigning, crying out and dying for these vital rights and yet still, somehow, we have been left hanging by government after government. Women’s rights are still, it would seem, not quite viewed as human rights. A woman, whether mother or not, must put her survival, health and ambition below that of men, children and foetuses. If she works, she will almost certainly earn less than a man; if she doesn’t want to have a baby, she will have to argue her case with a doctor; if she does have a child but then wants to go back to work, she will have to somehow conjure up a whole second income just to pay for child care. 

In Germany, the Kindergeld - or child benefits - pay parents €184 per month for the first child; Elterngeld allows parents to take a leave from work while being guaranteed their workplace for up to three years with a Parental Leave Allowance of at least €300 per month; while your child’s place at Kindergarten will be partly or even entirely paid for by your ‘Kita-Gutschein’. In Britain, we have an army of women working full time but earning nothing, after they’ve paid off their nursery fees. They are missing out on both a childhood and a career, and all because our government would rather have power and money than a functioning welfare system.

This wouldn't happen if men had to give up their jobs. This wouldn't happen if women ran the treasury. This wouldn’t happen if we’d just been listened to back in 1970.

Mini Vogue

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