Motherhood conference returns to York University, April 11 to 14

From pregnancy complications to post-partum body image and weight stigma, maternal health and well-being are the focus of a four-day conference that will bring scholars from around the world to McLaughlin College at York University, April 11 to 14.

The conference, “Maternal Wellbeing and Health: Emotional, Physical, Psychological, Social, Spiritual, Cultural and Environmental,” will discuss the political, sociocultural, racial, psychological and spiritual aspects of motherhood, according to Professor Andrea O’Reilly in the School of Women’s Studies, Faculty of Liberal Arts & Professional Studies.

Andrea O'Reilly
Andrea O’Reilly

More than 100 scholars from 11 countries will be presenting in the annual conference organized by the Motherhood Initiative for Research & Community Involvement (MIRCI).

“The conference will also critically examine the issues facing mothers in conflict zones, gun violence, poverty and popular culture,” said O’Reilly, Canada’s leading motherhood scholar and the founder-director of MIRCI.

The conference will explore the complexity of the present state of motherhood as both identity and experience in the context of women’s health, with the specific aim to produce social science and humanities research to address the needs and concerns of women’s maternal well-being.

The topic of women’s health has emerged as an important topic in health and women’s studies over the past two decades, said O’Reilly.

“Since most women become mothers or engage in some form of motherwork, much of the scholarship on women’s health has centred on maternal health issues. Likewise, mothers’ roles in health promotion have captured the interest of researchers and practitioners because mothers tend to assume responsibility for the health of their children, families and communities,” she said.

Consequently, mothering is associated with a loss of physical, emotional and social well-being. Mother-centred concerns, however, are often overshadowed by a medical emphasis on the biological as well as by the legal and social expectation that women assume primary responsibility for parenting effectively.

This conference will examine the social determinants of maternal well-being and the impact of poor maternal health on social issues, such as women’s employability and access to education. It will explore, leverage, mobilize and implement social science and humanities research on maternal well-being that is relevant and useful for activists, service providers and policy-makers who work on behalf of mothers to empower mothers through improved social, spiritual, emotional, and physical maternal well-being in the context of culture and the environment.

For complete programming information, go here.