Council leader: People look at me like I’m a devil woman for not wanting children
Sarah Hayward says women face sexism at work over childcare and family planning
14 March, 2017 — By Richard Osley
Sarah Hayward, third from the right, at a panel discussion on International Women’s Day
CAMDEN Council leader Sarah Hayward has told how she had been asked to explain whether she planned to have children as she ran to be a Labour parliamentary candidate.
She was speaking at a discussion about the barriers faced by women in the world of work, as part of a series of events at the Arlington House conference centre in Camden Town to mark International Women’s Day.
“I don’t have children and that’s a conscious choice for me, but actually I’ve still been fingered with some of the sexism for the fact that I might have children at various points,” she told an audience of women and schoolgirls.
“Some people in this room know that I stood for selection to stand for Parliament within the Labour Party a couple of years ago and a number of people asked what my plans were to have children – questions that would actually be illegal in any other job situation. I’d go: ‘No, no, don’t worry about that. I don’t plan to have children. It’s just a choice I’ve made.’ And they look at you as if you are some kind of devil woman for not wanting children.”
Cllr Hayward eventually lost to Keir Starmer, who stood in Holborn and St Pancras following Frank Dobson’s retirement. She has said in the past that some members had told her they did not think she would be taken as seriously as the MP for the area as a woman.
She said on the issue of how people viewed family planning: “Women still get those sorts of barriers – and you have to learn how to deal with it yourself. We all have things that interrupt our lives: caring responsibilities for children, or parents, or partners’ parents, and we have to deal with those. But also if you have the capacity, actually ask employers as to what they are doing to help you and flexible working and childcare. I’m proud to say Camden Council tries to lead the way on this. Not every employer does. Employers should help with this stuff.”