Sunday 23 October 2016

Colette Fitzpatrick: Nothing will ever change for mums until we get more women in power

Mums need better care
Mums need better care
Michael Fassbender
Princess Charlotte was born last weekend at St Mary's Hospital in Paddington

Talk to anyone who's had a baby in this country and you hope to hear the words 'Thank God, he or she is healthy and it was straight forward enough'.

Of course, that's the most important thing - that the baby and yourself are alive and well. That seems to be the bar here.

While pregnant, you had notions of birth plans and fluffy, warm after care.

But the reality is that many maternity hospitals are under such pressure that the experiences that some mothers endure can leave them scarred for life.

We're told we have some of the best maternal care in the world, but on any number of forums and blogs women are sharing experiences of maternity care that are clearly far from world class.

Scan some of the contributions on social media and you'll read comments such as, "The fact is every Irish woman knows a woman who has had a horrific experience - men are mostly oblivious".

Or, "My mother had two stillbirths. Both babies were taken away without her even seeing them".

Another goes like this, "In 1993, seven months pregnant my baby died - I was sent away for two weeks until natural labour occurred - no care."

It will come as no surprise to these women that a charity claims we're almost three times as likely to die in pregnancy and childbirth as women in Norway.

The Save the Children's 16th annual State of the World's Mothers report found that Ireland ranked only 22nd in the world. It looks at countries that are succeeding and failing in saving the lives of mothers and their newborn babies.

It assesses mothers' well-being using indicators of maternal health, under-five mortality, levels of women's education, income, and political status. We've slipped down the rankings (we were 20th in 2013 and 19th last year).

Obviously the Nordic countries fare best. (Don't they always?) But we're behind debt-stricken Greece as well as Spain, Slovenia Portugal and Israel.


How can we be behind Greece, a country that's completely broke and bust? A pregnancy test reading positive in Athens is better news there than here. Better because you are more likely to have a better chance of having a safe and well baby and being safe and well yourself after birth.

One of the indicators that brought us down is the representation of women in politics and government.

Women in positions of power tend to make decisions around how resources are allocated and tend to prioritise education and health. This improves circumstances for women.

It seems to me that one obvious way of Ireland creeping back up the rankings is getting more of the gender who actually give birth, into decision making positions. In other words, more women politicians.


Not just the sexiest in the world ... our men folk make a great cup of tea too

Michael Fassbender

Great news lads. Give yourselves an appreciative round of applause and maybe even a wolf whistle. MissTravel.com, a US-based travel and dating website, has announced the results of a survey that polled "over 110,000 singles to discover the most desired nationalities".

The survey asked 66,000 single women and 45,000 single men to rank the top ten sexiest nationalities in the world - and Irish men came out on top for the ladies, while the men chose Armenian women as the sexiest nationality.

The survey found that men, apparently, are all about the looks. When asked to rank the qualities that contributed to attractiveness they stated 'body type' and 'facial features' most frequently.

When asked which qualities affected their decision, most women (49pc) said 'accent'. Honestly though, I doubt that it matters what Colin Farrell or Michael Fassbender sound like. If they could just be in your eye line, sure that would be fine.

I've always preferred Irish men to other nationalities. Who else can make a great cup of tea - a crucial characteristic for most wimin. What about a good fire? Years of living in draughty, damp homes has honed this skill for Irish lads. We'll see your Bear Grylls and raise you a lad from Galway. Keep her lit and all that.

They love their mammies too. Like, really love them. You know if you have a boy, he'll be calling you up and doing little jobs around the house for you even when he's in his 50s. They're fierce chivalrous. Sure didn't we all get the tux jacket around our shoulders on the debs night?

They're in touch with their feminine side as well. What Irish lad do you know who hasn't been moved to tears when a bit of loose ball was gathered up and lobbed over the bar to secure a victory in extra time?

They also tend to really lose themselves when present at the birth of their first born by saying something poignant like, "fair play".

Fair play lads, you're the sexiest in the world. But we knew that all along.

Charlotte's had a hell of a first week


She's not yet a week old and I'm already recoiling at all the 'pretty princess' drivel about Princess Charlotte Elizabeth Diana. All this newborn wants to do is sleep and feed and it feels like already she's been picked apart. Her outfit (a hat and a shawl) and her resemblance to her granny, the late Princess Diana (inset). Seriously? She's a few hours old and is as squishy, red-faced and sleepy-looking as the next newborn. Imagine the gender stereotyping that is going to surround this girl.

Imagine the child celebrity fashion mania that's on the way. Suri Cruise and Harper Beckham are probably fuming.


More sexism in politics? Mon dieu

So, female French journalists have signed a petition denouncing sexism from male politicians.

A front page of the Liberation newspaper this week read "get your paws off me". Forty female reporters gave examples of the sexist and demeaning behaviour they endured while working. Mon Dieu. How unbelievable that such sexism would exist in the corridors of power. Hang on. We can't exactly tut tut here.

We had Tom Barry mistaking Leinster House for Coppers when he pulled Aine Collins into his lap during the debate for the Protection of Life During Pregnancy bill, followed swiftly by Fine Gael dismissing it as "a bit of horse play". Like cool the jets everyone, we're only having a laugh. Where's your sense of humour? Fix me a drink after you've located your funny bone.


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