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Towards a Kinder Future Mother's Day

Until this year, I have not posted anything for Mother’s Day, and some of you may be wondering why. Certainly, it is not due to a lack of appreciation and deep love for my mother. She is more devoted and caring than anyone could hope for. But I have always imagined the overwhelming sense of grief for all those who are reminded of the mothers that they have lost or never known on this day. Seeing others celebrate their mothers is like rubbing salt into an open wound.

There are all the mothers who have lost their children, who are reminded of the Mother’s Day greetings they will not receive. You have women who would dearly love to become mothers, but who are unable to have children. In the Middle East, in particular, this is the cause of countless divorces, and sometimes bigamy. Also, we should consider women who do not want to have children who are constantly reminded that society does not value their womanhood equally. For many women, motherhood is not joyful but traumatic, the result of rape or forced marriage, a broken promise, or a threat, expectation, and pressure imposed by their family that will eventually lead them to abandon their studies and dreams. Looking at the state of the world, there is also an increasing number of women whose conscience does not permit them to be responsible for bringing a child into such misery with uncertain futures. Bearing all this in mind, I thought that at the very least, I should not add to the pain of all the world’s motherless children, nor to the burden of women without children.

However, this year is different. Maybe because of the pandemic, I am reminded daily of how fragile life can be. Therefore, I want to openly express my gratitude to my mother - so devoted, so brave, so loyal. Being a mother is never easy but being a mother of a child with a disability brings additional challenges. In the Middle East and probably many other parts of the world, there is a stigma and blame towards the mother. Fortunately, this was not the case within our family, and my father was by her side, but it still creates loneliness, otherness, and awkwardness in society. People feel pity and say may God help you! – only very rarely do they offer to help or understand that it takes collective action to reorganise society so that disability does not become a burden.

Though my father was supportive in so many ways, my mother was the one who carried me up and down the stairs in inaccessible buildings until I was almost as heavy as she was. Therefore, through you my dear mother, I want to celebrate all mothers of children with disabilities who achieve the impossible every day with their amazing strength and courage and only seldomly with any appreciation or support from society. Mothers who nurture their children, give them self-confidence, show them their talents and uniqueness so that one day they can fly on their own, realise their dreams, and make their way in the world.

On this Mother’s Day, I also want to express my gratitude to my Spanish mother, the wife of my uncle, who cared for me those long years I spent in Spain when I had surgeries and treatment. In so many ways you made me the person I am today, and without your loving care, I would not have been able to endure that time of my life.

This is the day to remember that women with disabilities are also mothers, caring for their children in adverse circumstances. Some live in fear of having their children taken away from them by social services or relatives who claim to be acting in the best interest of the child. Finally, there are far too many women with disabilities across the world who could be mothers, who dream of motherhood, but who are denied it. Not because they do not have the physical, mental or emotional capacity of being mothers, but merely because of social stigma.

So, let us use this occasion to mobilise for a day to come in the future where Mother’s Day will no longer separate people, but bring them together. We cannot change the past, but around the world, there are millions of children and young people who need a parent’s love and devotion. If we cannot all be mothers, we can foster or adopt an orphan, encourage the children and young people we meet, and support our neighbours who are struggling alone with their responsibilities. Individually and as organisations, let us remember each day to take action to make this world a kinder, more inclusive place for all.

Chavia Ali

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