From politics to pop-culture, how pregnancy and motherhood are empowering women to break through barriers
Pregnancy and motherhood have been in the spotlight more than ever lately, from Beyoncé’s internet-breaking announcement that she was expecting twins, to an Australian Senator’s decision to breastfeed her baby while she was addressing parliament. Here, we round up the women who have hit the headlines for proving motherhood is no limit to making your mark…
Battling on court is second nature to the ‘greatest female tennis player of the Open era’, so dubbed by BBC Sport users. So much so that when the 36-year-old US-native beat her sister Venus in the Australian Open, thus winning her 23rd Grand Slam in 2017, she did so while in the early stages of pregnancy. Revealing her exciting news – apparently, accidentally – via a Snapchat selfie a couple of months later, she proved that pregnancy is not a limitation to physical and mental strength. She looks to be setting her sights for a fight off the court too; before giving birth to her daughter she told ESPN “If [she] were to play a sport, and she was able to have equal prize money and equal pay or equal rights…that would be a success too”
Australia’s Green Party hit headlines in June of this year, in a parliamentary first. The party’s senator Larissa Waters put forward a motion on black lung disease, while breastfeeding her daughter Alia Joy. Tweeting afterwards “First time I’ve had to move a Senate motion while breastfeeding! And my partner in crime moved her own motion just before mine, bless her.” She then handed over parenting duties to the Green party leader Senator Richard Di Natale who was seen playfully holding Alia Joy – giving a whole new meaning to a flexible boss. It was a move that proved that motherhood and work can be seamlessly intertwined.
Forget Kim Kardashian breaking the internet, when Beyonce posted a picture to her Instagram in February this year announcing that she was pregnant with twins, the online world went into meltdown. It was the first in a series of orchestrated posts and performances that determinedly celebrated her pregnancy. Take the 2017 Grammy Awards where she performed dressed in a jewel-encrusted gown and headpiece created by Peter Dundas, that was designed to highlight her belly. An ode to mothers and women everywhere it was an emotional, artistic journey filled with dancing, spoken-word and an unforgettable chair-tipping scene. It wasn’t the first time the star performed pregnant either – who could forget her 2011 ‘Love on Top’ VMA’s performance where she ended by rubbing her stomach and announcing her exciting news. A true performer to the end, her new-born twins were proudly presented in a highly-stylised Instagram post that recalled her original pregnancy announcement, as the final chapter of her expectant journey.
The CEO of Yahoo announced she would be taking ‘limited time’ away from the internet powerhouse, while expecting twins. The 40-year-old posted on her blog “Since my pregnancy has been healthy and uncomplicated and since this is a unique time in Yahoo’s transformation, I plan to approach the pregnancy and delivery as I did with my son three years ago, taking limited time away and working throughout.” A woman at the pinnacle of power in her company, she was able to put in place nannies and strict time scheduling. A salient reminder of the cut-throat world of big business and a move that hopefully made other employers recognise the need for more flexible working.
Lynsey Addario was five months pregnant when she first felt her baby kick. Yet unlike most expectant mothers, she was a Pulitzer-prize winning photojournalist who at the time was photographing skeletal children in the Horn of Africa. Covering the wars in Afghanistan, Iraq and lately Somalia, Lynsey was no stranger to putting herself into danger, but to do so pregnant takes a new kind of courage. Speaking to CNN after the birth of her son Lukas, she said “I always knew my death would be a possible consequence of the work I do. But for me it was a price I was willing to pay because this is what I believed in. Now I think ‘OK, I want to cover that story, but how can I do it in a way that I can get home to Lukas?”
Words by Katie Stalker