As families get ready to celebrate mothers this Mother’s Day with most COVID-19 pandemic related public health restrictions lifted, one York University motherhood expert says the pandemic has acted as a beacon to expose longstanding cracks in systems of caregiving, women’s rights and gender equality.
With the pandemic in its sixth wave, we are seeing the full extent of what mothers have lost and the real costs of the pandemic on them economically, culturally, socially and psychologically, says Professor Andrea O’Reilly of the School of Gender, Sexuality and Women’s Studies at York University.
Citing a recent study by UN Women that reveals women were more likely to lose their jobs, did more unpaid care work and suffered worse during the pandemic, she says: “As we recover from the pandemic, while it is important to recognize their labour, it is also crucial that public, social, medical and workplace policies that support and empower mothers are improved.
“What mothers want for this Mother’s Day is this recognition, as they continue this necessary labour to allow all of us to heal and recover.”
According to O’Reilly, conversations and actions toward empowered social change are only possible with a matricentric approach that recognizes and supports the crucial work mothers did as frontline workers to keep families functioning throughout the pandemic and as we begin to “return to normal.”
O’Reilly is a key organizer of a three-day global conference “Learning from the Pandemic: Possibilities and Challenges for Mothers and Families” from May 5 to 7.
“Combining multidisciplinary and intersectional perspectives, we will examine the impact of the pandemic on mothers’ well-being, and care and wage labour in the context of employment, schooling, resettlement and family relationships,” O’Reilly notes.
As the title suggests, the conference will bring together scholars, practitioners, and activists to explore the impact of the pandemic on mothers and families around the world while considering strategies for the post-COVID climb-out.