A proposal by Lisa Creagh and Aamta Tul Waheed, September 2023
“Care and compassion are, theoretically, the ethical foundations for most major world religions and philosophies, yet in practice are so rarely implemented…Biological motherhood is not a requirement; indeed, for Motherism’s ideals to be effective, non-biological mothers are a key component of this paradigm shift equation. Without naming this theory precisely, Mothernism makes the case that mothers, fathers, and their children alike – institutions and governments, even – should live with an ethics of care”Julia V. Hendrickson “The Mother-Shaped Hole: Lisa Haller Baggesen’s Mothernism”
Motherhood is cited as Feminism’s ‘unfinished business’. Rejecting the unpaid servitude of mothering, first wave Feminists felt forced to leave behind the mothers to secure women’s place in the male world of work. Much of the original tenants of the Women’s Movement of the 1970s were centred on the right to choose motherhood: abortion and contraception were the first tenents of womens freedom,  the foundation upon which other rights could be won.
Fifty years later: 80% of women in the UK have children, and most are at least wage earners, if not the primary provider in the home. Yet good quality affordable childcare, paid joint parental leave, workplace crèches, breastfeeding and expressing rooms remain a fantasy.
Although paid care for children was among the original demands of the Suffragette movement more than 100 years ago, parents who are commonly forced to make difficult choices about paying for childcare or working part time or not at all in the early years. The fact is, working mothers in the UK are half as likely as childless women to work in high-earning professions and eight times more likely to work part-time, with the main reason being little access to affordable childcare.
Inequality is now an issue among women as the wage gap between those who give birth and those who don’t is more significant than between women and men.
Arguably, in this environment, women who care for others now have more in common with any other carer than they do with their liberated sisters. And this is a growing army of unpaid care givers: Carers Uk estimated that in 2022, the number of those providing unpaid care to others in the UK grew to an estimated 10.6 million people, almost a sixth of the population.
This includes grandparents, fathers who care for motherless children, foster parents, children mothering their parents, partners caring for sick or elderly husbands and wives, friends caring for unofficial wards – indeed anyone with unpaid caring responsibilities.
For parents, the grandparent, the aunty, the sister, the neighbour or trusted friend are an invaluable caring resource, holding together family lives that are affected by a lack of state support. For example, with the number of grandparents almost doubling globally in the last fifty years, the ratio of grandparents to children has increased with many corresponding benefits to children. These benefits can be measured in other less wealthy countries by very significant outcomes for mothers and children:
“Grandparents pass on traditional beliefs, stories, songs and a sense of history. More prosaically, they bring an extra pair of hands. That helps both parents and children. A study in rural Gambia, for example, found that the presence of a maternal grandmother significantly increased a child’s chance of living to the age of two. In sub-Saharan Africa the odds of being in school are about 15% higher for children living with a grandfather and 38% higher for children who live with a grandmother.”The economist 2023/01/12
The ageing population is just one of a number of demographic changes influencing the growth in shared responsibilities for children. Another is the increasing number of single people who may step in for a nephew or nice, or friends in need. Whether due to fertility issues or conscious choices, there are more childless couples who may still enjoy time spent with a younger generation. To care is to love and a shared responsibility of caring for children should be seen as an evolution and a return to traditional and collective responsibility, envisaged by Bell Hooks in her essay, Revolutionary Parenting:
Childcare is a responsibility that can be shared with other child rearers, with people who do not live with children. This form of parenting is revolutionary because it takes place in opposition to the idea that parents, especially mothers, should be the only childrearers. Many people raised in black communities experienced this type of community-based child care. …they relied on people in their communities to helpBell Hooks ‘Revolutionary Parenting’
Although closely tied to a lack of state provision, the inclusion of others in the parenting process is potentially liberating, moving child-rearing away from an exclusively female practice as the joy of time with children is spread across generations and both biological and chosen families.
‘Another Mothering’ brings these rich stories to the forefront, looking at caring with fresh vigour. Working in small grassroots networks with a team of creatives throughout 2023 -2024, we will tell Another Mothering stories in all their myriad forms with food sharing, storytelling, visual art and music, culminating in a city-wide celebration of caring in many states of love, grief, tenderness and joy.
 ‘Feminism’s Unfinished Business’ Elaine Glaser, 2021
 “The study showed that working mothers in the UK are half as likely as childless women to work in high-earning professions and eight times more likely to work part-time” https://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2009/jul/10/mothers-wages-fawcett-society