For Work / Against Work
Debates on the centrality of work

"Childbearers as Rights-bearers: Feminist Discourse on the Rights of Aboriginal and Non-aboriginal Mothers in Australia, 1920–50"

by Lake, Marilyn (1999)

Abstract

Abstract In the post-suffrage era in Australia, feminists invoked maternalist arguments in support of the idea that mothers were political subjects with rights and they extended their campaigns to press for recognition of the rights of Aboriginal women. This article examines the claim made by post-suffrage feminists that ?the common status of motherhood? entailed a range of social, economic and civil rights. They argued in Royal Commissions, election campaigns, and the press that all mothers, working class and middle class, Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal, who wished to retain the custody of their children should have the legal right and economic ability to do so. In New South Wales the campaign culminated in the staging of a play called Whose Child? This article explores some of the tensions between Women's claims as mothers and as independent citizens and the difficulties encountered when feminists attempted to have mothers' rights defined as human rights in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in 1948.

Keywords

Surrogacy, Mothering, Maternal Work, Motherhood, Australian Context, Aboriginal Australia, Transnational Surrogacy, Feminism, Feminist Studies, Affective Labour, Race, Policies, Law, Maternalist Feminism, Maternal Rights, Family

Themes

Work in Australian History, Feminist Arguments on Work Centrality, Mothering Work, Care Work

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