Motherhood has always been an undying role in every society, crucial for the future of the human race. The question we need to ask ourselves today is, is society pushing this vital role of motherhood out?
Mothers who work are being pushed out
Legal firm Slater and Gordon's recent study, revealed a quarter of mothers claimed to have been discriminated at work and almost half believed that being a mother affected their potential for promotion. It also revealed that over half of women believed that actual attitudes of colleagues and bosses changed with the knowledge of their impending motherhood.
Despite every individual in a workplace having a life outside work, however significant or small - The life outside work for mothers in particular is pulled on by employers, as a problem for their commitment and conscientiousness in their job. However the study showed that mothers in actual fact work even harder once they have children.
If that is the case, then it appears that there is a disregard of mothers, where they are viewed as more of a problem than an asset. However employers who hold such a view fail to realise, to disregard and make it difficult for women to do their mothering role properly doesn't just affect her, but the future for all - As the future for everyone, is shaped by the children of today who will look after the world of tomorrow.
Mothers pushed out of the home
If the world of work has little space for mothers, are they being pushed to stay at home? Numerous studies have shown the benefits of mothers nurturing their children full-time. Maternity doctor of 30 years Dr Yehudi Gordon, who introduced birthing pools to the UK, in 2009 strongly argued that his years of experience had led him to believe that secure and strong attachment to a parent in early years of life, has real affects on good mental health in adulthood.
The Office of National Statistics last month also revealed that stay at home mothers actually fared one of the best in happiness, suffering less from feelings of worthlessness and boredom than their working counterparts.
So why did the census figures last year show the most dramatic drop in stay at home mothers with fewer than one in ten women staying at home full-time?
Even though mothers staying with their children prioritising their upbringing, has undeniable impact on the success of children, it is seen as a choice women can make if they choose to - As George Osborne called it a 'lifestyle' choice. However making this role a choice, undermines the integral role a mother needs to play in the development of children, and in shaping the future of society.
And even so Osborne may have called it a choice, but there is no real 'choice' as the entire society under Capitalism is set-up in a manner to make maximum income, requiring two earners in a home. This means sacrificing an entire income is a choice of luxury, where bills and mortgages need paying for most families. This has been created and reinforced by Government policy, with financial support being directed at those who work - Not stay at home. Osborne's recent decision to give even high-end earning parents childcare vouchers, leaving stay at home mothers totally unsupported recently reflected this. Whatever political party has been in power, policies may have differed but for a Capitalist Government, the focus has always been making childcare easier so women can swiftly go back to work as the economy needs it.
On top of this, the overwhelming narrative across society is that staying at home full-time, to nurture and bring up children is seen as a thing of the past and a waste of a woman's talent.
This narrative is expected in a society shaped by Capitalism, where value is defined by what makes profit and benefits the economy, and staying at home to bring up children does not fit this bill. So mothers are being pushed out of full-time motherhood too.
So where do mothers go? In the workplace they are a nuisance, at home they are not fulfilling their potential; so finding the middle ground has been the prime debate - But this middle ground still yet to be found, doesn't put at the centre the most important aspect of this debate. The actual outcome society needs from mothering - Secure and successful children.
The real truth is, the Capitalist society we live in has become one with little room for dedicated motherhood.
Giving motherhood value
Is there a way to solve this conundrum? Well, Islam lays out an alternative.
Islam does not judge the value of a person's role in society solely by how much they contribute to the economy. Rather Islam looks at what benefits society overall. And when it comes to children, Islam looks at this entire issue through what is best for them, as they are the critical future of society.
So once a couple have children choice is not the issue. What is focussed on is how best the family unit where the children will develop, should function. And therefore Islam prescribes gender roles within the family, placing the mother as the one who bears children and breastfeeds them as their prime carer, and the father as the one who earns the income. Neither role is viewed as better than the other - Rather it is the role of the mother which is greatly elevated in Prophetic tradition and sayings. This has real impact on the value being a mother holds, as well as for how everyone in society sees them. The harnessing of intellect on the next generation, is seen by all as an optimum way to use one's potential - Unlike in a Capitalist society where full-time mothering is seen as a bit of a fringe choice and a waste of a woman's talents.
And in an Islamic society or Caliphate, where all ideas and laws are Islamic, the defined roles ensure that society is clear about the importance of the family unit. The priority of nurturing children cannot be sidelined, by any economic policy or objective.
Mothers are not pushed out for money
The set-up of the Islamic Caliphate does not require both parents to earn. The model of guardianship in Islam, that is so often criticised, is the mechanism which ensures women are in a place where they can decide what is best for them - And not decide on what to do based on financial necessity. Islam makes it an uncompromisable law, as well as a religious obligation which men will be accountable to God for, to financially provide for any female members of the family - Even after the event of a divorce.
The dominant viewpoint in an Islamic society of God consciousness, shapes the way the entire society functions, and underpins all actions. God consciousness - Understanding that every action and the neglect of any prescribed action has a real impact on ones' Afterlife - Shapes the way people view their responsibilities, and how men view this responsibility of providing. Men in society know that even if they could get away with not providing for their female family members and dependants by escaping the State radar, they could never escape the radar of an omnipotent God.
And if there are no men to provide, the Caliphate through its' state funds would consider it a priority to provide for such women, so she does not need to compromise her dedicated role as a mother.
Mothers valued across society
Finally although the role of a mother is greatly valued and she is financially supported in this role, this does not mean she is not allowed to work. Women can work, as they have done throughout Islamic history. However it is not the earning of a monetary income that gives them worth in Islam.
But this value of motherhood has an effect in the workplace as in a Islamic Caliphate, which puts at its' heart the rearing of children, employers cannot detach the value with which they view mothers across society with their employees. This means any mothers who choose for whatever reason to work, or any pregnant women who work, would be treated with respect and never asked to jeopardise their responsibilities as a mother.
In a time where Capitalism is facing a dilemma on the place of motherhood in society, perhaps fresh societal perspectives can provide some food for thought. Indeed today, Islam is seen as many things, but rarely an alternative perspective on how motherhood, one of the most important roles in any society, can be protected and elevated.