Australian Senator Larissa Waters just made history as the first politician to breastfeed in the nation's parliament.
Senator Waters, the co-leader of the left-wing Greens party, has returned to work following a 10-week-long maternity leave, and brought her 2-month old daughter, Alia Joy, with her. She had to breastfeed during a vote, so she did.
“Well I think it’s slightly ridiculous that feeding one’s baby is international news — women have been breastfeeding for as long as time immemorial,” Waters, 40, tells the BBC. “But in another sense, this is the first time this has happened in our Parliament in 116 years, so it’s definitely world history-making.”
“I had hoped to not only feed my baby, but also to send a message to young women that they belong in the Parliament, and that they can be both Parliamentarians and be moms.”
A longtime champion on women, she was instrumental in passing a rule last year that allowed for members to breastfeed in the senate chambers. She reveals that there were a few not so nice remarks from “the more elderly members of the Senate, who, perhaps, haven’t entered this century yet,” but that most people had been supportive of her decision.
“Lots of women thanking me for doing it, not just for normalizing breastfeeding, which is itself an important issue, but there’s still a little bit of stigma in some corners of society,” she says. “But it’s been lovely to hear from the young women and the other moms who’ve said, this is a role model for my daughter or for myself, to know that we can aspire to this sort of occupation.”
“Perhaps I’m biased but she is a very cute baby, so there’s lots of smiles and it’s been quite the mood lightener,” she adds.
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