Amendments to the Maternity Protection Act

Inclusive ideology and equality has been the theme tune to my life

Sir, – While not an extremist, I have campaigned and advocated for many societal shifts: Separation of church and State – absolutely! Divorce – yes! Lisbon and Nice – of course! Marriage equality – yes! Repeal – yes!

Inclusive ideology and equality has been the theme tune to my life. A post-menopausal cis mother, grandmother, artist, who embraces equal rights including LGTBQIA2S+, I celebrate Pride with pride about living in an inclusive society.

With hindsight, I have perhaps been slightly smug about how life in Ireland has changed over the past 50 years. But now I am flailing, confused by and angered at the proposed amendments to the Maternity Protection Act 1994 around maternity leave and breastfeeding, which includes the erasure of the words woman and mother in favour of the words person/parent. Mater = mother. We need protections. It is a step too far for this woman who grew up in a misogynistic society that has just begun to improve its attitudes to women, and there is a long road ahead. Other societies have regressed frighteningly in recent times.

My core identity is as a woman, a mother, far beyond the term “gender assigned at birth”. As a woman I menstruated for 45 years, experienced difficulty getting contraception, breastfeeding inadequacy and shaming, cervical checks, menopause, HRT, etc.


Social discriminations such as not being allowed into certain establishments, catcalls, employment discrimination, fear while out walking alone, body shaming and so much more. As an artist there is a whole other level of discrimination against women artists. All part of being a woman.

In this context, how have we, as a nation, become so blinkered in the quest for so-called equality that women (51 per cent of the population) are to be denied our identity?

I fear if these amendments go forward that there is a real danger of women’s hard-won rights being eroded over time, such as data collection of sex-based inequities in the workplace, Government, boards, organisations and institutions and of the eventual elimination of affirmative programmes, scholarships and grants for women. It seems like the National Women’s Council of Ireland, which normally represents women well, is letting us down on this issue which is yet another disappointment.

Instead of erasing our identity and with that, our collective contributions to humanity that are specific to women, there must be a more inclusive mechanism to ensure everyone’s dignity is maintained.

Perhaps through medical chart annotations/names above beds? Sensitivity training could be part of the legislation, to have people’s chosen pronouns clearly demarcated when accessing public services.

Yes, give everybody the right to self-identify as whatever we wish or feel compelled to be, including women.

– Yours, etc,



Co Laois.