Why mothers need a progressive alliance

Jane Chelliah

Sunday, 11 March 2018

This blogpost is the first in a week-long series exploring the question of the role of mothers in progressive politics.


On Mother’s Day we rightly celebrate the role that mothers play in raising children while juggling work whether it is paid or at home. Mothers’ work often goes unrecognised, both in the home and in wider society. To compound matters, we are treated as if we are a homogeneous group. Instead, we are a heterogeneous group, but we are not adequately represented in the structures of power.

I launched Mothers for a Progressive Alliance in November 2017 with Compass’ backing. Compass’ Progressive Alliance concept is an exciting philosophical and political framework within which to base a movement that is elastic and accommodates diversity and difference. The Progressive Alliance framework lays down intellectual, cultural and organisational foundations for its alliance-building approach towards a better society for our children.

If the emphasis or focus is on mothers, this becomes the level of analysis for the inclusion of the needs of mothers and children in policy making. With child poverty and child homelessness on the rise, families visiting foodbanks in greater numbers and a lack of adequate medical services – then action is needed.

Mothers for a Progressive Alliance will advocate through Compass for mothers to be put at the centre of considerations of policy making. It is not always immediately apparent how politics affects mothers. Speakers at the launch event spoke about issues that would not immediately strike people as being mother centric, but are all related to the needs and concerns of mothers. They touched on the arms trade and how weapons impact women and children; women in the workplace and how a culture of presenteeism impedes mothers from having a work-life balance; mothers suffering from racism; and how neoliberalism prioritises the workplace and regards a stay-at-home mother as not being valuable enough to society.

Mothers for a Progressive Alliance is about motherhood activism. Mothers are a force for social change. As Compass has stated, the Progressive Alliance is a part of a cultural revolution of our politics, building the ideas and forces that could set us on the path to a good society. Mothers are part of this revolution.

Read the other blogs in this series here:

‘Mothers united against discrimination’, Christine El Issa

Motherhood and a new caring politics’, Mark Boden

Mothers against Arms’, Kirsten Bayes

‘How work can work for mothers’, Claire Hobson

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