Portrait of a (working) mother exhibition comes to Zurich

09.03.20

International Women's Day - After Geneva and other venues, the exhibition came to the ETH Zurich, Switzerland's most prestigious engineering university.

Portrait of a (working) mother is a photo exhibition resulting from an interdisciplinary photographic-research project on motherhood, career, and international mobility. In the original exhibition supported by MMM, which was notably shown at the United Nations in Geneva in June 2018 , the work of Marina Cavazza, a photographer, and Eglė Kačkutė, a scholar now Associate Professor at Vilnius University and Assistant Lecturer at Maynooth University, portrayed 27 expatriate mothers living and working in International Geneva.

The Zurich exhibition builds upon the original project with an additional 10 portraits of mothers working at the ETH. Their particular situation was discussed at the opening event on 4th March. Like in other workplaces, being a (working) mother, i.e. combining care responsibilities with career aspirations and obligations, is a challenge; but it is here compounded by the fact of being a foreigner, having high responsibilities and being part of a prestigious academic institution.

The entire portfolio can be seen on Marina Cavazza’s website.

Opening of the 4th March event by Sarah Springman, Rector, ETH Zurich – Photos of the opening event courtesy of Ian Bichelmeier

Eglé Kačkutė’s analysis

“In the original project which had over 25 photos and interviews, we very much focused on the obstacles that women face in managing to enjoy their careers as well as family lives – as professional migrants and parents – on the sacrifices that people have to make through the mix of gender, migration, motherhood and career advancement. And because we worked very much with the backdrop of the discourse of ‘having it all’, it was obvious that nobody was having it all.

In the ten new interviews and portraits that were done here at the ETH, a different story emerged. The same lens of gender, motherhood, migration and career advancement was used to produce a different effect.”

“This time around, the story shone a light on what enables women to have the lives in which both family and career are possible, namely, cooperative partners, childcare structures and support networks of family and friends. This acknowledgment is performative in that it highlights the fact that nobody can do it on their own. That unless the supportive structures are in place, people are not going to succeed in maintaining their career/professional lives alongside their family lives.”

Panel Discussion – From the left Eglé Kackute, Marina Cavazza, Keynote speaker Simona Scarpaleggia, Head of the Global Initiative “The Future of our Work” at INGKA Group (IKEA), and participating (working) mothers.

Selection of mother’s quotes

  • “I am only a small part of a functioning, sustainable network of loved ones to whom I am so important as a person, that they give me the freedom to do what I want. This enables me to set priorities and be a mother, partner, friend, daughter, neighbour, and colleague. With this in mind, the notion of achieving a work-life balance does not make sense if we only think of ourselves as individuals and forget the role of the people around us.” (Andrea)
  • “The most difficult thing for me about being a mother is on a very profound level, because how I define myself as a woman has changed. We are part of a generation raised to be professionally successful, surrounded by feminists and independent women. I feel guilty about sacrificing my career, and at the same time, I feel guilty for feeling this way, instead of enjoying my time with my child. The guilt also has to do with a lack of honesty about motherhood in society in general. Being a mother is very idealised – of course, there are moments of great happiness, but there are also moments that are really hard.”  (Daniela)
  • “I have met women who have been terrified to even consider starting a family – for fear of losing their project, for the difficulty of working in a lab while pregnant, or for not having the flexibility to take time for their children. People do not always make career choices with these things in mind, because often they do not even realize that these issues exist until they wish to start a family.” (Renana)

Our frontman’s point of view

Ian Bichelmeier is a 26-year-old architect who lives and works in Zurich. He covered the panel discussion and took some event photographs for MMM.

His wrap comment: “Mothers – and fathers – should not have to make choices: workplaces should be adapted and organized to allow parents to assume their care responsibilities. Flexibility is important, but in addition, employers should have rules such as conducting meetings only at times that would allow parents to do school/creche pick-ups and drop-offs.“

 

 

Most read articles

Together with mothers in Afghanistan for the right to education for their daughters

26.11.20

A look back at our online High Level Panel Discussion of 25 November 2020 - Event recording, highlights, how you can get involved in the #RaiseAPen campaign

Lire plus

#RaiseAPen Campaign kicks off

12.11.20

Make Mothers Matter (MMM), backed by key global personalities and organisations, is kicking off the #RaiseAPen campaign with a strong mobilisation video, answering the call of mothers in Afghanistan f

Lire plus

Changing narratives about unpaid care work and the economy

03.07.21

UN New York / HLPF - Register now to join us virtually at this year’s High Level Political Forum side-event.

Lire plus
See all the articlesof the category

Latest News from MMM and its Network

Work, education & political participation is every afghan woman’s right

28.09.21

UN Geneva, Human Rights Council - MMM reasserts the importance of every woman and girl 's economic, social and cultural rights and calls for the international community to mobilize.

Read more

Women at the frontline of the global water crisis

27.09.21

UN Geneva, Human Rights Council - During the dialogue with the Special Rapporteur on the right to water, MMM drew attention to the impact of the global water crisis on women's rights and unpaid care workload, a

Read more

Françoise de Bellefroid 1925-2021

22.09.21

Françoise de Bellefroid was President of MMM, then World Movement of Mothers, from 1992 to 2000. She passed away in Brussels this Summer leaving 24 grandchildren and 24 great-grandchildren! We would like to pa

Read more

Afghan faces and voices of courage

21.09.21

August 15th saw the collapse of the Afghan government and a return to power by the Taliban. At MMM, like much of the rest of the world, we were shocked at the speed with which change came about.

Read more

Mothers and Peace – Book launch

21.09.21

On International Day of Peace, we are celebrating the launch of Mères et Paix (Mothers and Peace), a book by our MMM colleague Pauline Ambrogi. Pauline holds a doctorate in contemporary history and is a writer

Read more

MMM France presents results of first 1000 days survey – Will French mothers be heard?

21.09.21

To advocate for the needs and expectations of mothers in relation to the French government's forthcoming reform on the #1000premiersjours (#First1000Days), MMM France was determined to hear and consult them fir

Read more