In this blog post, Anthony Silkoff highlights some of the issues that face mothers and talks about the brand new project, Museum of Motherhood, which intends to explore these issues. The launch is to be held at June 21st   in London.

The Museum of Motherhood (MoM) is a brand new pop-up museum that asks what it means to be a mother.  The exhibition tells 20 unique stories of motherhood from communities diverse in faith, culture and sexuality.  Visitors will get an insight into the reality of motherhood, from the perspectives of both mother and child; the struggles and rewards; the sad times and the comical moments; and the unconventional experiences, as well as the traditional.


As the project coordinator, I began conducting interviews for the project.  It occurred to me as I did so, that the relationship between motherhood and feminism can be a tricky one.  An example of how women’s identities are sometimes subsumed by motherhood was nicely summed up by Mandy, a woman from East London who explained that, after she’d given birth:

No one actually called me ‘Mandy’ any more.  I became nothing but ‘Gemma and Louise’s mum’. ‘Mandy’ became non-existent.“

Another of our participants, Rebecca, told me that, even with a feminist husband,

It can’t be as equal as we’d like it to be.  For example the father getting only two weeks paternity leave.  Right from the beginning there’s this state-sponsored sexism.

While these challenges persist, MoM has also shown how motherhood can be a useful lens through which to examine critical issues related to gender equality.  Simply by asking about motherhood, I gained insights into feminism, war, HIV, sexuality, religious faith and more.

One participant told me how she’d been diagnosed with HIV while pregnant, and described the emotional struggle of coping with an abortion in that context.  Two gay participants explained how their sexuality had impacted their relationship with their own mothers as well as their foster children.  Many participants described how their faith had either inspired them to have children, or helped them through challenging times.  The first of MoM’s aims is to highlight these issues, and the significance of motherhood in society.

The second aim is to inspire action on Millennium Development Goal 5 -improving maternal health – through fundraising for Proshanti, a maternal healthcare charity. For women in Bangladesh, only 13.4% of childbirths are attended by skilled personnel, leading to extremely high rates of maternal death.  In addition, Bangladeshi colleagues tell me that women continue to have very little say in healthcare matters that directly affect them such as birth control, or the resources allocated by government to antenatal care.  Initiatives like Proshanti are essential for changing this status quo.

MoM participants
Museum of Motherhood participants

The Museum of Motherhood will make its first public appearance at the V&A Museum of Childhood on Thursday 21st June with three guest speakers:

Rushanara Ali MP, Shadow Minister for International Development;

Pinky Lilani OBE, Founder of the Asian Women of Achievement Awards;

and Ruth Turner, Chief Executive of the Tony Blair Faith Foundation

Also launching on the 21st June will be an accompanying book with a foreword by Cherie Blair. All revenue from ticket and book sales will go to fund Proshanti’s maternal healthcare work in Bangladesh.  Tickets will be available on the door for £10. Discounted tickets, priced at £8, are now available online at: 

Keep up to date with further MoM developments via Twitter: @MoMLondon or by emailing

Anthony, 25, is a Faiths Act Fellow of the Tony Blair Faith Foundation, which works to inspire multi-faith action on the UN’s Millennium Development Goals.  He is a graduate of the Human Rights and International Politics MSc at the University of Glasgow, where he focussed on feminism in the Middle East.