A century of Danish advances for women met a barrier this week when a legislator was told by another female politician that her baby had no place in Parliament.
Danish politician, Mette Abildgaard, 30, revealed the episode in a post on Facebook, writing that Denmark’s first female speaker of Parliament, Pia Kjaersgaard, 72, upbraided her Tuesday, saying that her daughter was “unwanted” in Parliament.
Mother and daughter were ejected from the room.
The expulsion united many legislators across political lines in protest against what they saw as an outdated and unwarranted stance.
“It can’t possibly disturb anyone as long as there’s no screaming and wailing,” wrote Pernille Skipper, a member of Parliament from the left-wing Red-Green Alliance.
Others called the ejection incomprehensible and demanded an apology from the speaker.
Danes are used to great flexibility to balance work and family, with a year of paid parental leave, paid days off for parents when their children are ill, and subsidised childcare.
Abildgaard explained in her post that she would not normally bring her child to the chamber but had chosen to return to work early in order “to serve democracy.” A vote had unexpectedly required her presence, and her husband could not make it to parliament in time to take care of their 5-month-old daughter, Esther Marie.
The girl had been silent and “in a good mood” with a pacifier in her mouth in the chamber, said Abildgaard, who added that she had made arrangements for her secretary to take the baby if she began making noise.
Kjaersgaard took to Twitter on Tuesday to defend her decision, saying she had “quietly” asked a secretary to tell Abildgaard that “it’s not good” to bring babies to the chamber, adding that it had been a minor issue.
Kjaersgaard’s decision to eject the daughter from Parliament found support in some quarters. Marlene Harpsoe from the Danish People’s Party, said that the decision had been “absolutely fair.”
By Martin Selsoe Sorensen © 2019 The New York Times