Thank you to the Durham University MAMS network for their event evaluation which was the basis of this article.
On 10th March 2022, Durham University MAMS network hosted an event based around ‘Through the Night’, an intimate cinema verité portrait of three working mothers whose lives all intersect at a 24-hour daycare center in New York, to mark International Women’s Day 2022.
Durham staff and students had the opportunity to watch the film in their own time ahead of a virtual Q&A with the film’s director and producer, Loira Limbal, and a panel discussion involving staff and students from Durham University:
Nayanika Mookherjee – Professor of Political Anthropology, founder and previous co-chair of BAME network
Sue Black – Professor of Computer Science and Technology Evangelist, founder of BCSWomen and #techmums
Debbie Coulthard – Housekeeping Supervisor, managing a housekeeping team working across Durham University’s estate and facilities
Ellie Donnelly – PhD student studying cross-cultural mother-infant communication and infant development in the UK and Uganda
The panel was facilitated by Geetanjali Gangoli – Associate Professor of Sociology in the field of gender based violence and abuse
The audience heard Loira talk about her inspiration for the film, the reaction from audiences, the universal messages the film conveys and how the process of making the film has led Loira to reflect on her own role as a caregiver. Impromptu questions were asked around the concept of 24 hour daycare, gender/patriarchy issues, caregivers and their role in society. Questions were then posed to each panellist focusing on barriers to self-care for single mothers, intersectional challenges and their impact on the role of mothers as caregivers, engagement with and role of childcare providers in raising children, the impact of non-standard working hours on caregiving and barriers for women working in these roles whilst raising children. Questions from the audience were asked around care of older children, employer support, government policy and support for caregivers.
Feedback for the film and event was very positive, with one panellist even suggesting that the network start a monthly film and discussion club. Additional comments from attendees illustrate their positive reaction to the event:
“My jaw actually hurts because I was grinning and nodding my head so much over the last hour and a half! From being reminded about the astonishing Ehrenreich’s Nickel and Dimed … to Debbie’s point about how government policy does not adequately recognise the experience of caregiving… I’m buzzing with so many thoughts!”
“I thought it was fantastic – really different and inspiring. The range of panellists that you had was great.”