Female members of the European Parliament are making their mark by bringing their children with them to work. MEPs are not currently entitled to parental leave, and while they are able to take six months maternity or paternity leave, they cannot be replaced by another politician and are obliged to vote in person.
The latest is the Swedish MEP Jytte Guteland who took her baby to a vote at the European Parliament last month and has called for workplaces to be more “child friendly”.
A picture of the Social Democrat politician with her young son was shared hundreds of times on Twitter. According to Guteland, she wanted to normalise bringing children to work so that parents could do so if and when it is necessary. “It’s common to have kids at work, but quite uncommon for them to come along and vote. But there is no parental leave for us MEPs,” she explained.
“I want parents to be able to have parental leave regardless of their job or assignment. I think we should also be child-friendly so that a baby can come along when it’s possible.”
This isn’t the first time this has happened in the European Parliament. Former Italian MEP Licia Ronzulli attended the European Parliament in Strasbourg with her baby daughter Vittoria on several occasions over a number of years.
Ronzulli said at the time that she wanted to make a point about the difficulties women face in trying to juggle careers and child care. She commented early on that her decision to bring baby Vittoria into vote was not a “political gesture but a maternal” one, as she was still breastfeeding. She also said she wanted “to remind people that there are women who do not have this opportunity [to bring their children to work], that we should do something to talk about this”.
Last year, Anneliese Dodds, Labour MEP for the South East of England, took her four-month-old daughter Isabella to Strasbourg where she spoke passionately on tax avoidance laws.