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Sylwia Chutnik has created a number of initiatives to prevent the social, economic, and cultural exclusion of mothers. She is reforming institutions and influencing society to make the public sphere accessible and friendly for mothers with small children.
Social and economic isolation affects women with children regardless of their socioeconomic status. In Poland particularly, mothers are disempowered and forced to stay at home because public spaces do not adequately serve the needs of mothers with young children. Moving around with strollers is difficult and public buildings do not have facilities for changing diapers or comfortable spaces for breastfeeding. After giving birth, a vast majority of women renounce their usual activities, such as school, work, and social activities to avoid being condemned as anything less than a loving, caring mother. Unless directly related to the well–being of the child, their own needs end up being neglected.
Sylwia has consulted the Ministry of Labor and Social Policy on amendments in the labor code to encourage entrepreneurs to employ mothers. She organizes self–formation workshops for mothers, is working toward making this type of course routine and helping more than 100 mothers a month. The MaMaFoundation provides legal, psychological and educational advice.
Sylwia believes that the first step in getting mothers to leave their homes is to provide them with comfortable spaces in society to bring their children. She offers mothers a number of opportunities where a mother, or both parents, can go out with a child to a place such as a movie theater, restaurant, or cafe
with facilities both pertinent to children’s needs. Sylwia provides the business with a “mother–child friendly” sticker to publicize it as a “safe” space for mothers. Sylwia taps into the
initial stages of self–awareness by offering further opportunities for mothers, such as personal formation workshops and professional training where they can come with children or leave them with an onsite babysitter.
Sylwia wants to prevent the social, economic, and cultural exclusion of mothers. She is reforming institutions and influencing society to make the public sphere accessible and friendly for mothers with small children.
As a feminist, Sylwia began to understand that the feminist
movement was not and is still not taking mothers’ needs into
consideration. Sylwia came upon this realization when, in 2003, she gave birth at the age of 24 and her colleagues believed that she would no longer be socially and politically active. Instead of falling into this prediction, Sylwia decided to escape from the path of frustration by gathering women in similar situations to help lead a movement to encourage mothers to leave home and become active members of society.