Don't Mention the 'M' Word

13/07/2016 12:44 | Updated 13 July 2016

Andrea Leadsom's comments in The Times, which inferred that being a mother gave her some sort of 'edge' over Theresa May, were rightly received with outrage and continue to fuel debate and response in the media and across social media where #asamother is still trending.

She has of course since apologised profusely and said that she was misquoted. The furore ultimately resulted in her standing down from the leadership campaign. I have no desire to further vilify a woman who has already been pilloried by the press, but as a woman whose job it is to help women have babies and equally help those who cannot, I feel passionately that the use of the role of motherhood in politics or business - or frankly any role that falls outside that of motherhood - is dangerous, inappropriate and sometimes downright cruel. I am not suggesting for one moment that Leadsom intended her comments to be any of these things, but introducing a distinction between someone who is a mother versus someone who isn't, immediately polarises the issue and makes a judgement (whether direct or subconscious) about the type of person they are or the value they have.
In my role I face the reality of helping many women come to terms with the fact they won't or can't conceive. These people come from all walks of life and there are a plethora of reasons unique to each as to why being a mother isn't an option for them. Motherhood does not define who that person is or what they can achieve.

All too often motherhood is used as a weapon against women, sadly often by other women. Whether it's those who view childless women with suspicion, or as "unnatural" to those who make the immediate assumption that an individual doesn't want children and has simply favoured making headway on the career ladder in place of motherhood. For many childless women, this isn't an active choice but a very tough hand that life has dealt them. It should go without saying this makes them no less a person and no less able to succeed in Society.

Being a parent is no measure of intellectual acumen, emotional intelligence or strategic ability. Just as fatherhood isn't an acknowledged badge of ability in either the political or business world, to value women on the basis of whether they are or aren't a mother is to seriously undervalue them. It undermines what being a woman means in the modern age and it's utterly counter to the great strides female emancipation has made over the years. It's time for motherhood to remain where it belongs - at home and within the comfort of family and friends. It isn't a tool for boardroom or grass root politics. We're worth more than that.