Women, Work & Childcare

This International Womens’ Day also coincided with the first day Robbie’s been able to go to daycare in a fortnight, thanks to two bouts of illness (the first a cold, the second gastro).

As I drove away from daycare this morning, after seeing him settle back in quickly with the educators he’s formed such a strong bond with, I felt an enormous sense of relief and freedom.

Don’t get me wrong; I love spending time with my son. It was fun to spend such a large chunk of the last two weeks with him. (OK, not the parts when he vomited and pooed all over me, obviously, but the other parts where we played in the park, drew in our driveway with chalk, read lots of stories, and chased the neighbours’ cat around (sorry, Duncan!)).

But the sense of freedom rushed in today because I finally have a chance to focus solely on my work again, which of course I also love and is incredibly important to me (and hopefully, as a climate campaigner, to the world too).

The past fortnight I’ve been snatching tiny bits of time to work in the morning before Robbie woke up, while he napped, at night after he was asleep, or in blocks of time when other people were looking after him. Luckily, Simon is a very hands-on dad and we’re pretty much equal in the time we spend with Robbie, so it’s not like all my work had to grind to a halt.

But today, knowing that I can finally focus on my work all day, without having to worry about Robbie at all, is so liberating. I know he is having a great time at daycare, learning lots, and being looked after by a wonderful team of women who put their heart and souls into their jobs.

Which brings me to the topic of today’s post: the women that enable me to have this freedom to work – a hard-won freedom that our feminist forebears fought for – are being paid much, much less than what their work is worth.

An extract from a Sydney Morning Herald article this week:

Qualified early childhood educators earn as little as $20.61 an hour, about half the national average wage and significantly less than workers in male-dominated professions with comparable skills and qualifications. Childcare union United Voice has a long-running wage case in the Fair Work Commission, arguing that the 97 per cent female workforce is under-paid for working in a “pink collar” sector. Figures from the Workplace Gender Equality Agency show the national gender pay gap is 16.2 per cent, with female-dominated industries attracting lower wages than male-dominated industries. A metal fitter and machinist with a certificate III qualification earns $37.89 per hour, for example, compared with the $20.61 earned by the certificate III qualified educator.

This afternoon, childcare educators are striking (there is still a skeleton staff for the kids of parents who are unable to pick them up). As a parent, I fully support the strike and I fully support paying childcare educators more.

My wish for International Womens’ Day is for you, reading this post, to sign the petition at the Big Steps campaign being run by United Voice.

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Robbie: 17 months now!

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What I Learned Travelling from Australia to California with a Baby

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Robbie in his sleeping bag in bassinet on way home – an hour before landing in Sydney

It’s 8am Sunday morning Sydney time; 3pm LA time, and we’ve been travelling (including car, airport transfers and actual time in the air) for something like 28 hours. We just missed our connecting flight to Canberra so I’m mainly writing this to stay awake. And because I wish someone had wrote it for us before we travelled!

Last Sunday, Simon and I flew Virgin Australia Canberra – Sydney – LA – San Jose and then the final leg was a 2.5 hour car ride to Pacific Grove.

Why did you go all this way with a 6-month old, you ask? We were both invited to participate in a really amazing week of strategizing big picture ‘breakthroughs’ to get progress on climate change with about 25 amazing climate folk from around the world. It was called the Climate Strategy Accelerator, convened by three big philanthropic foundations: Packard, Oak and Good Energies.

The meeting was a challenging, inspiring and profoundly thought-provoking experience that I suspect will prove life-changing for many of its participants, either through the ideas we came up with or the relationships we formed. But to write about that would require more brain capacity than I have right now, in my jet lagged and sleep deprived state.

So, to the practical lessons learnt from the journeys there and back. In no particular order, here are my ten commandments of international travel with a 6 month old.

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What it’s like being a Mum Part 2

 

_MG_9479-4It. Gets. Better.

Seriously!!!!

Robbie is now almost six months, and as I write this he is asleep. He went down at 9am and I know he won’t wake up until 11am. (In fact, if the past week is anything to go by, I am going to have to open the curtain at 11.15 to encourage him to wake up – he’s such a sleepyhead now!).

This morning, we woke him up at 7.30 and spent a beautiful hour and a half playing on the sunny bed in our front room (yes, we now have our own bedroom separate from Robbie – so great), reading books (both of us) and practicing rolling (him, not me). Last night, he only woke twice to feed (at 11.30 and 4am), after going down at 6.30pm. So when I woke up this morning, I felt human. Just like I have for the past week.

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What it’s like being a Mum (for me*)

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Robbie’s ‘thinking face’ at 3 and half months

My friends without children ask me what it’s like being a Mum.

I had imagined, before my son was born, that I’d be able to describe my experience. After all, I’d never had any trouble describing other experiences in my life, even very intense ones. I’ve been a journal keeper since I was 11 years old (and it is bloody hilarious to read back over those old entries). I love telling stories. I write. Words flow.

At least, they used to.

Since Robbie was born I’ve barely scraped out four diary entries in four months. And they are short. Things like “I’m so exhausted. Going to try to catch up on sleep today”.

I wanted to write about this time, I really did. Most nights I would compose sentences – even whole paragraphs – in my head. But there’s a wall there, a wall of tiredness, that has stopped my hands from picking up a pen or opening a word document.

But it’s time. Here it is: an attempt to describe what motherhood is like for me.

There’s no doubt my approach to life has changed.

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Why the UN Climate Agreement is a Big Deal

First published on Mamamia 

Sunday morning, to the casual observer, looked like a normal weekend at our place. I walked outside, picked up the paper from our front yard and watered the hedge before the Canberra sun got too hot. My husband held our ten-week old son in the shade of the front porch.

But there was a spring in my step and a grin on my face that wasn’t there the day before. Because on Sunday, we woke up to a different world – one that I, and tens of thousands of environmentalists, had been working towards for over a decade.

In 2005, I was a delegate at the UN climate change talks in Montreal. Ten years later, the world finally has a legally binding agreement aiming to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees C by the end of the century (quick recap: burning fossil fuels has already warmed the world an average of 1 degree C over what temperatures were before the Industrial Revolution, causing those once-in-a-hundred year type extreme weather events to become the new normal).

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Introducing Robert Jackson Rose

Robbie climate action

OK, so I haven’t blogged for a long time. The little man is why! 2015 was a very, VERY busy year. I found out I was pregnant in January, gave birth to Robbie on October 2nd and have been adjusting to my new life as a parent since then. Oh, and also worked with my amazing team at WWF-Australia to deliver the best Earth Hour ever. And edited a cookbook, Planet to Plate. And helped build a network of farmers passionate about tackling climate change. And bought a house. Yep, it’s been a big year. Not much time for blogging. But I’ll try to do more now… when Robbie is sleeping (which is rare!).

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Appetite for Change Documentary

So, after the success of our 2014 documentary, which Channel Ten very kindly aired for us just before lights out, we decided to make another one in 2015. This one is close to my heart, and I’m very proud of it. It features some very amazing farmers that I’m proud to call my friends, and is all about the reason I got involved in climate change campaigning in the first place – the impact of extreme weather on food and farming. It was made by the amazing team at Woody. Enjoy!

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