Everything you need to know about the March of the Mummies - and how to get involved

Joeli Brearley
March of the Mummies follows the global women's marches in January this year (pictured here in Washington) - Copyright (c) 2017 Rex Features. No use without permission.

What is it?

March of the Mummies is a demonstration being organised by international pressure group, Pregnant Then Screwed, which supports women who have suffered pregnancy or maternity discrimination. The protest will take place in six cities across the UK today to demand better protections and support for mothers.

It has been 19 months since the Government commissioned a report into pregnancy and maternity discrimination which showed that 54,000 women a year lose their job for daring to procreate and 77 per cent of working mums encounter discrimination in the workplace. Since the report was commissioned 84,000 women have lost their jobs. Yet, the Government has taken no decisive action.  

The march has 5 demands:

  1. Increase the time limit to raise a tribunal claim from three months to (at least) six months

  2. Require companies to report on how many flexible working requests are made and how many are granted

  3. Give both parents access to six weeks non-transferable parental leave paid at 90 per cent of salary

  4. Give the self-employed access to statutory shared parental pay

  5. Subsidise childcare from six months old, rather than three years .

These demands will be presented to a group of MPs on Parliament Square.

As it is Halloween, attendees will dress up as mummies (the walking dead kind) to represent the archaic legislation that is in place.

And, let’s face it, it isn’t that difficult for us mums to look like the walking dead. The events are for the whole family, we will have face painters and some of the marches will have performances from choirs or bands. 

How did it start?

Pregnant Then Screwed started after the founder, (that's me), was sacked by my employer the day after  announcing my pregnancy. Heartbroken and terrified, I attempted to use the legal system to get justice but due to costs, the complexities of getting good legal advice and then discovering I was having a high risk pregnancy, I was forced to drop the case.

Once I'd given birth to her son, I started attending parent groups and discovered that this was far from being an isolated incident. The majority of women I spoke to had encountered some form of discrimination. I launched the website in 2015 as a place for mothers to tell their stories of discrimination anonymously.

The campaign quickly took off and mothers from across the UK offered their help to others - free legal advice and mentoring women through employment tribunals. Pregnant Then Screwed lobbied the Government for amendments to legislation, including raising an Early Day motion which was signed by 102 MPs. We have attended  Parliamentary meetings asking the Government to do more to help mothers - but no action has been taken.

Sick and tired of the inaction, we've decided it is time to take to the streets - inspired by the women's marches earlier this year - and start making our voices heard. March of the Mummies was born.

Why should I care?

The number of women who are pushed out of their job for daring to have children has almost doubled in the last 10 years. Far from improving, the situation is drastically deteriorating and, with more women in work than ever before, we need to ensure that their rights are being protected.

This march isn’t just about enhancing legal protections against pregnancy and maternity discrimination - it is about the fact that there are deep inequalities in the way our legislation is set up, which perpetuate gender stereotypes and there is a lack of support which also prevents women from returning to work, if they want to.

We want legislation to support equality in the home and equality in the workplace. Credit: Westend61

Did you know that there are 2.2 million people who stay at home to look after children in Britain, 60 per cent of whom are looking to get back to work? That 44 per cent of working mums say they earn less than before they had children?And that by the time a woman’s first child is 12 years old her hourly pay rate is 33 per cent lower than a man’s?

Forty per cent of employers say they would avoid hiring a woman of childbearing age and only one per cent of families have accessed Shared Parental Leave - despite 37 per cent wanting to share leave more equally.

We want legislation to support equality in the home and equality in the workplace.

How can I get involved?

There are six demonstrations in six cities that will take place simultaneously on Tuesday October 31, at 12pm. Each demonstration will last no longer than two hours. You don’t have to register to attend, but it helps to estimate numbers.

London

The main march and rally will take place in London, starting on the North Terrace on Trafalgar Square at midday. The march will head down Whitehall to Parliament Square where you will hear from speakers including Caroline Lucas MP, Helen Skelton (TV presenter), Sophie Walker (Leader of the Women’s Equality Party), Anna Whitehouse (AKA Mother Pukka) and Ivana Bartoletti (Chair of the Fabien Women’s Network). We will then hand our demands to a group of MPs. The whole event is expected to finish at 2pm. You can register here.

Newcastle

The Newcastle demonstration will start at the Civic Centre and the march will head to the monument. Speakers include Annie Rigby (theatre director) and Liz Mayes (prominent North East business woman). Beccy Owen’s pop up choirs will be running a workshop at 10am that morning to learn the campaign song ‘Marching On’ and a band will play during the march. To register for Newcastle go here.

Manchester

The Manchester demonstration will start at Central Library with speakers including comedian Katie Mulgrew, Singer Kirsty Almeida, Hannah Connor from Raised by Feminists and suffragette Sylvia Pankhurst (being impersonated by Elaine De Fries from the Pankhurst Trust). We are running banner making workshops in advance, one for kids on Friday 27th October at 1pm at the People's History Museum and one for adults at Ziferblat on Thursday 26th at 6pm. To register for Manchester go here.

Belfast

The Belfast demonstration will take place outside the town hall. There won’t be a march but there will be speakers at the demonstration including the Lord Mayor.

To register for Belfast go here.

Cardiff

The Cardiff demonstration will start at the Anuerin Beavan statue and will progress down Queen Street.

To register for Cardiff go here.

Glasgow

The Glasgow demonstration will start at Glasgow Green and you will march to George Square. Speakers include: Lisa Gallagher, Amy Nicolson, Mridul Wadhwa, and Scott McFarlane.

To register for Glasgow go here.

Joeli, founder of Pregnant then Screwed

Can I attend with children?

Absolutely! People are encouraged to bring their children. The route is accessible for prams and there will be lots of mums there to help you out, if you need it. If you require any assistance on the day, let one of the stewards know (wearing yellow jackets) and they will do everything they can to support you.

What should I bring?

Attendees are encouraged to dress up in Halloween costumes. There will be a few masks available if you didn’t have time, and we will have some face painters who are ready to add a few touches, should you want them.

Please also bring banners and signs, you can get some ideas for things to write on them here.

Don’t be nervous about coming on your own. The group will be very friendly and you will be surrounded by other parents. We hope this is an opportunity for you to meet some new people.

Make sure you wrap up warm and have a rain coat, just in case. Remember to bring a drink and possibly some snacks. The whole demonstration shouldn’t take any longer than two hours in total.

What about safety?

The organisers are working closely with the police in each local area to ensure the march is safe. There will also be plenty of stewards around and we will have first aiders.

I can’t attend, how can I show my support?

Not everyone who wants to march on Oct 31can be there in person due to other commitments but you can still play your part.

At 12pm on the day, while the marches take place, add your voice to social media to help make as much noise as possible. Here are three ways you can do your bit for the #MarchoftheMummies cause from your computer or phone. 

  1. Take a photo or short video of your marching feet, and post to Twitter with the message 'I’m marching with @pregnantscrewed’s #marchofthemummies’. Or to Instagram with the message: ‘I’m marching with @pregnant_then_screwed #marchofthemummes’. And Facebook with the message: 'I’m marching with @maternitydiscrimination #marchofthemummies’
  2. Make a banner featuring one of our five demands, or one of our banner ideas and share a picture of you and your friends, workmates or your children holding it up.

  3. Tell one person. It’s really important than we get the word out, and if you could make one social post about #MarchoftheMummies and tag another person you think should be talking about the cause, it really does make a difference.

You can also sign the petition for #GiveMeSix, our demand that the Government increases the amount pregnant or postpartum mothers have to raise a tribunal claim, sign the petition to give both parents access to 6 weeks leave at 90 per cent of pay or sign the petition to give the self employed access to shared parental pay.

Who will be there?

Well we just can’t say exactly but we hope lots of you. We have also heard from a couple of celebrities that they are likely to make an appearance on the day... but we don’t want to spill the beans just yet.

Fingers crossed we also have lots of press there so we can start really putting the pressure on the Government to address this very important issue.

People we aren’t expecting: Jacob Rees Mogg, Piers Morgan, Donald Trump.