Senator Larissa Waters has made history in becoming the first woman to breastfeed in the Senate chamber. Breastfeeding has been permitted in the chamber since 2003, but Alia will be the first baby to be breastfed on the floor of Australia’s Parliament.
Larissa Waters is Greens party co-deputy leader, who was returning to Parliament 10 weeks after giving birth to her second child, according to the Sydney Morning Herald.
“The milestone comes after Senator Waters instigated changes to Senate rules last year, extending rules that already allowed breastfeeding in the chamber to allow new mums and dads to briefly care for their infants on the floor of parliament… The House of Representatives has made similar changes.”
Waters told the Courier-Mail that if her child is hungry and crying, she will not delay feeding her. Last year, the 40-year-old mom-of-two successfully extended breastfeeding rules in the Senate to include caring for an infant.
— Larissa Waters (@larissawaters) May 9, 2017
“If she’s hungry, that’s what you do, you feed your baby… I hope she doesn’t squawk her head off too much, but she’s probably going to be better behaved than many of the people in that room.”
Senator Katy Gallagher told Sky News that women have been breastfeeding in Parliaments around the world, and it is wonderful to see it occur in Australia.
“Women have been [breast-feeding] in parliaments around the world… It is great to see it is able to occur now in the Senate… Women are going to continue to have babies and if they want to do their job and be at work and look after their baby… the reality is we are going to have to accommodate that.”
Waters said in November, “If we want more young women in Parliament, we must make the rules more family friendly to allow new mothers and new fathers to balance their parliamentary and parental duties.”
Australian Senator Sarah Hanson-Young’s 2-year-old daughter, Kora, was ejected from the Senate in 2009. Senator Waters said the rule changes were designed to encourage parenting Australians to enter the Parliament, thus ensuring a representative of the community.
“It is important we make all workplaces more family friendly, not just parliament.”
— BBC News (World) (@BBCWorld) May 10, 2017
Waters is the latest in women politicians who have nursed their babies in parliaments throughout the world, according to the Huffington Post.
In October 2016, Unnur Brá Konráðsdóttir, an Icelandic Member of Parliament breastfed her infant daughter while defending a bill. It was reported that Spanish parliamentarian Carolina Bescansa nursed her 5-month-old son, Diego, at work in an effort to highlight the struggles working mothers face in January of 2016.
Larissa Waters said the recent unsuccessful push to remove Cabinet minister and new mom Kelly O’Dwyer is an example of how women face discrimination in the workplace, according to Sky News.
“That was atrocious, but sadly, it’s not that uncommon… One in five women experience severe discrimination on the basis of their parenthood. It is a very sobering statistic, and it’s really disheartening for people to see that even Cabinet ministers can be subjected to that as well.”
For most women, breastfeeding their baby at work isn’t their main concern.
— Larissa Waters (@larissawaters) May 12, 2017
Italian politician, Licia Ronzulli, who first brought her 7-week-old daughter to European Parliament in September 2010, said it wasn’t a political gesture but more of a maternal gesture, according to NPR.
“It was not a political gesture… It was first of all a maternal gesture — that I wanted to stay with my daughter as much as possible, and 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.”
Ronzulli added that the choice is a very personal one and everyone must decide for themselves.
“It’s a very personal choice. A woman should be free to choose to come back after 48 hours. But if she wants to stay at home for six months, or a year, we should create the conditions to make that possible… I came back to work after one month. But I am not an example to follow. Everyone must decide for themselves.”
Larissa Waters’ husband “has scaled back his digital marketing agency to be a full-time dad… He can bring Alia into the chamber when she needs some mother time.”
[Featured Image by Mick Tsikas/AP Images]