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07 March 2012


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anu anand

One footnote: Before you start applauding Canadian lawmakers, consider that part of the motivation behind its maternity laws is a need to boost its population. I.e. babies are a valued commodity, hence the need to provide financial incentives to have them... Food for thought!

Hello! Thank you so much for taking the time to respond to the A Mother's Work Meme, you've added such a valuable post to our ever-growing collection of meme responses. You make so many valid points it is impossible for me to comment on them without creating the longest comment ever!

Time and again that I hear of large employers of women such as the BBC failing to support long-term the very women they help bring up through the ranks. To my mind, everyone loses out, where is the sense in that.

I think your footnote about Canadian lawmakers is actually something that the British government should be considering. The stats are writ large, the British population is dwindling...

"There are currently 4 people of working age supporting each pensioner in Britain, by 2035 this number is expected to fall to 2.5, and by 2050 to just 2. The number of people of working age in relation to retirees is known as the ‘dependency ratio’." Source:

I will tweet the link out to this post shortly. Hopefully you'll get up and running on Twitter soon!

anu anand

And here's another fascinating post by an ex-BBC colleague, Frances Harrison, on what it was actually like toting flak jackets and nappies in her luggage from war zone to war zone:

Chimes with what I've said above... sad that such a fearless and tough woman felt she had to hide her pregnancy... that she'd never be offered a posting if she had a child... and the disgusting behavior by other women colleagues desperately trying to be 'laddish' to fit in with the testosterone-fuelled news world!

Anu Anand Hall

NPR's Beijing correspondent, Louisa Lim, rightly points out major inaccuracies in my post. (A) I know her. (B) She is a female foreign correspondent. (C) She has young children! Ooops!

Louisa and I haven't crossed paths (except on Facebook) since our early days at BBC World Service Radio in London, hence the oversight. But her own experiences as both mother and full-time foreign correspondent just go to underscore what a tough balancing act it is and perhaps why so few mothers are able to sustain it.

Over the course of nearly a decade, working for two major broadcasters, she describes answering calls to file despatches whilst in labour (I dearly hope she said 'NO!') ... cobbling together enough leave to augment the 10 days maternity she was entitled to (in the very, very bad old days) ... weaning one child in time for the Beijing Olympics ... juggling coverage of natural disasters with worries about spelling tests ... and (my favorite) being chased in a car across the Tibetan plateau by Chinese security forces whilst expressing milk!

Wow. I couldn't even get pregnant while working as a journalist! Can't imagine actually being pregnant, tired, sick and then giving birth and raising children while reporting on a country as vast and challenging as China!! Louisa says it takes intense planning and a great deal of support (and guts and huge dedication I imagine!) The upside of course is a hugely interesting job and seriously well-informed children (on asked to do his chores, Louisa's son said, 'Mom, you're just like Kim Jong Il.' !!)

She also mentions two other notable mum correspondents: Soraya Sarhaddi Nelson of NPR based in Egypt and Kelly McEvers, who covers Iraq from Beirut and has a toddler. Thanks for your input, Louisa. Read more about Louisa here:

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