March of the Mummies: Mothers call for childcare and parental leave help in Halloween-themed march


Thousands of working mothers came together in a Halloween-themed March of The Mummies to Downing Street today as they challenged the Government to help out more with childcare, parental leave and flexible working.

Protesters gathered together at Trafalgar Square in the heart of London, calling for Government reform. They were then seen embarking on a passionate rally through central London up to Parliament Square, past Downing Street.

Families including young children donned bandages, vampire costumes and witches’ hats as they took part in the march organised by Pregnant Then Screwed. Thousands more are expected to take part in similar marches across the UK, including in Glasgow, Birmingham, Manchester and Norwich.

United mothers stood defiantly outside Downing Street shouting ‘Dear Rishi Sunak, we want our choices back’ as they protested against unaffordable childcare and parental leave structures.

It comes on the day that Mr Sunak’s multi-millionaire wife Akshata Murty was spotted giving instructions to movers unpacking the family’s furniture as the Prime Minister’s press secretary confirmed that they are moving back into No 10 today.

Demonstrators dressed in Halloween outfits including skeleton costumes banged drums at the front of the procession and held banners which said: ‘My skills got me hired! My wok got me fired!’ and ‘Affordable childcare now’ as they marched to Parliament Square.

Thousands of working mothers came together in a Halloween-themed March of The Mummies to Downing Street this afternoon

Thousands of working mothers came together in a Halloween-themed March of The Mummies to Downing Street this afternoon

Thousands more are expected to take part in similar marches across the UK, including in Glasgow, Birmingham, Manchester and Norwich. Pictured: March of the Mummies in London

Thousands more are expected to take part in similar marches across the UK, including in Glasgow, Birmingham, Manchester and Norwich. Pictured: March of the Mummies in London

Protesters came together to defiantly stand together as mothers called for more help with childcare and parental leave from the Government

Protesters came together to defiantly stand together as mothers called for more help with childcare and parental leave from the Government

Families including young children donned bandages, vampire costumes and witches' hats as they took part in the march

Families including young children donned bandages, vampire costumes and witches’ hats as they took part in the march 

The protest, which was organised by 'Pregnant then Screwed', attracted thousands of protesters. Placards held by children such as this read: 'Invest in my future'

The protest, which was organised by ‘Pregnant then Screwed’, attracted thousands of protesters. Placards held by children such as this read: ‘Invest in my future’

Crowds flocked to Parliament Square and sang pop hits including Roar by Katy Perry as they demanded reforms to the childcare sector and parental leave

Crowds flocked to Parliament Square and sang pop hits including Roar by Katy Perry as they demanded reforms to the childcare sector and parental leave

Crowds flocked to Parliament Square and sang pop hits including Roar by Katy Perry as they demanded reforms to the childcare sector and parental leave.

Protesters including Labour MP Stella Creasy joined singers from choir MumSing who performed on a float outside the Houses of Parliament adorned with pink banners reading ‘March of the Mummies’.

Mothers carrying babies and young children danced and sang while others stood further back holding banners reading ‘The future won’t raise itself’ and ‘Pregnant then screwed’.

The Metropolitan Police said there was ‘positive’ engagement on the ground to ensure all families and children feel ‘safe’ at the march for childcare and parental leave reform.

In a statement on Twitter, Met Commander Karen Findlay said: ‘Positive engagement (Met Police) on the ground with (Pregnant then Screwed) organisers to ensure all mums, families & children feel safe & secure at today’s #MarchOfTheMummies focusing on childcare, flexible working and parental support. Big turnout for Joeli Brearly & team.’

Organiser of the March for Mummies protest Joeli Brearley led from the front as she demanded Government to listen to their voices. 

The Halloween-themed march saw protesters dressed up in all sorts of clothing and face paint as they held signs such as 'Womb for improvement'

The Halloween-themed march saw protesters dressed up in all sorts of clothing and face paint as they held signs such as ‘Womb for improvement’

Mothers were seen walking defiantly through central London with their children in buggies as they urged the Government to do more

Mothers were seen walking defiantly through central London with their children in buggies as they urged the Government to do more

Organiser of the March for Mummies protest Joeli Brearley led from the front as she demanded Government to listen to their voices

Organiser of the March for Mummies protest Joeli Brearley led from the front as she demanded Government to listen to their voices

The Metropolitan Police said there was 'positive' engagement on the ground to ensure all families and children feel 'safe' at the march for childcare and parental leave reform

The Metropolitan Police said there was ‘positive’ engagement on the ground to ensure all families and children feel ‘safe’ at the march for childcare and parental leave reform

TV presenter Katie Quilton, who was at the March of the Mummies protest, branded the pressure put on working mothers as 'insane'

TV presenter Katie Quilton, who was at the March of the Mummies protest, branded the pressure put on working mothers as ‘insane’

‘We need to force them to listen. Thank you for being here, thank you for being part of this moment,’ Ms Brearley, founder of the Pregnant then Screwed charity, said.

‘When the policymakers finally do something … they’ll pretend it was all their idea, but we will remember this moment.’

Meanwhile TV presenter Katie Quilton branded the pressure put on working mothers as ‘insane’ as she called for reform at the protest.

‘I was always told “you can have it all”, but at this point in my life I’m realising I don’t really think I can have it all,’ Ms Quilton said.

‘I’ve been advised along the way that at work I almost shouldn’t talk about my kid and at home not to talk about work. We can’t exist like this, it’s insane.

‘I really hate to say I’m not sure we can have it all, but the way things are set up right now, I don’t think we can have it all.’

Mandu Reid, leader of the British Women's Equality Party, accused the Government of leaving mothers to work on 'pittance wages' while raising children

Mandu Reid, leader of the British Women’s Equality Party, accused the Government of leaving mothers to work on ‘pittance wages’ while raising children

An elderly lady holds up a placard as she joins the march going up to Parliament Square. The placard, in the shape of a nappy, reads: This Government stinks. It's time for a change'.

An elderly lady holds up a placard as she joins the march going up to Parliament Square. The placard, in the shape of a nappy, reads: This Government stinks. It’s time for a change’.

Pictured: A mother holds a placard that reads: 'Invest in my womb and watch the economy boom'. Her child, in a buggy, says: 'Marching for mummy'

Pictured: A mother holds a placard that reads: ‘Invest in my womb and watch the economy boom’. Her child, in a buggy, says: ‘Marching for mummy’

Demonstrators dressed in Halloween outfits including skeleton costumes banged drums at the front of the procession

Demonstrators dressed in Halloween outfits including skeleton costumes banged drums at the front of the procession

The first March of the Mummies took place on Tuesday 31st October 2017 at midday in 6 cities across the UK and one city in California

The first March of the Mummies took place on Tuesday 31st October 2017 at midday in 6 cities across the UK and one city in California

Labour MP Stella Creasy said Rishi Sunak had made comments likening maternity leave to a holiday that reflect he 'didn't really know what he's talking about'

Labour MP Stella Creasy said Rishi Sunak had made comments likening maternity leave to a holiday that reflect he ‘didn’t really know what he’s talking about’

Mandu Reid, leader of the British Women’s Equality Party, accused the Government of leaving mothers to work on ‘pittance wages’ while raising children.

Speaking at the march, she said ‘underpaid, undervalued, largely women workers’ were paying the cost for the ‘failures’ of the political system.

‘We can win this,’ she said.

‘We won’t stop until our political system fixes the problems it’s created.’

Labour MP Stella Creasy said Rishi Sunak had made comments likening maternity leave to a holiday that reflect he ‘didn’t really know what he’s talking about’. 

‘We’ve got a cost-of-living crisis and an economy that isn’t growing. You can’t solve either of those challenges without investing in childcare,’ she said.

‘For me, investing in childcare pays off because the more women – and it is mainly women being penalised by this – can work, the more families can make choices that work for them.’

The March of the Mummies protest, organised by Pregnant Then Screwed, started at Trafalgar Square and went up to Parliament Square

The March of the Mummies protest, organised by Pregnant Then Screwed, started at Trafalgar Square and went up to Parliament Square

The MP for Walthamstow added: ‘A lot of us were really, really concerned to hear Rishi Sunak compare taking maternity leave to holiday, which kind of reflected that he didn’t really know what he was talking about.

‘So, I hope they listen to this protest, recognise the figures above all else and start figuring out how they can invest in childcare.’

Ms Creasy said Labour were committed funding after-school clubs and keeping the issue of childcare high on the agenda. 

The first March of the Mummies took place on Tuesday 31st October 2017 at midday in 6 cities across the UK and one city in California.

They say the protest is to ‘shine a light on the UK’s appalling record’ such as having teh second most expensive childcare system in the world ‘due to years of underfunding’.

They also say the UK has the third worst ranking maternity pay, and the least generous paternity leave in Europe.



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