Letter: Women's work

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Sir: I applaud David Aaronovitch's sentiments about working mothers. I suspect that he will be vilified.

Women are not allowed to say that they would rather raise their own children, at least until school age, rather than pay someone else to raise them. Women have to want to have a career and children. Many of us, avowed feminists like myself and others, do not want to "have it all"; we recognise that it is not possible. We cannot bring up our children satisfactorily and work full-time. It may not harm our children to be brought up by others - studies have been produced suggesting both that it does and that it doesn't - but we cannot say that we are juggling family and work when we are doing the work and someone else is bringing up our family.

It will be said that this is yet another excuse to discriminate against women in the workplace. No one should be discriminated against in the workplace. Family-friendly policies should apply to all workers in all workplaces. Fathers should be able to spend more time with their children than many are able to do at present, without being penalised or stigmatised.

Society devalues the care of children. Stay at home and raise your own children, and you become a social nonentity. In the past, at least the Government would have applauded you. New Labour doesn't think that anyone should stay at home with their children unless they have a partner to support them. They want single mothers to work at all costs. Women who care for children professionally are underpaid and undervalued. When does a week go past without every newspaper in the land bullying child-minders, nannies, teachers?

It is time that feminist stay-at-home mothers stood up and were counted.


Tetbury, Gloucestershire