We partnered with &Mother, a social change nonprofit focused on gender equity through the lens of motherhood-related barriers, and Salomon, a global leader in the outdoor industry, on the first stage of a long-term project to standardize supportive services for parents participating in recreational athletic events. First up, was the Salomon WMN ½ Marathon Trail Race which took place on Saturday, September 24th, 2022. We provided pumps and individually-wrapped, sanitized accessories (so every mom had her own pumping kit) at each aid station along the race route, in addition to the lactation station at the start and finish line (to provide private and accessible spaces with milk storage). This is exactly what we mean when we talk about how to lower the barriers for mothers to participate in sporting activities.
We could not have implemented this partnership without the incredible, Molly Dickens, co-founder of &Mother. We sat down with her (in between the race excitement!) to chat about why this initiative is so important and how it’s such a game-changer for caregivers.
Why is it important for &Mother to be a partner for the Salomon WMN ½ marathon trail race?
The incredible women who organized the event for Salomon did the hardest work. They had the vision to offer childcare and make sure lactation support was sufficient. For us, at &Mother, this was a great opportunity to learn from a forward-thinking brand and race sponsor, to see what works, what’s missing, and what to do better next time. Since we are working with such a receptive race organizer, we were also able to push aspects of support further, like having breast pumps at aid stations.
How do you go about picking the right partners that help improve support for athlete mothers?
It’s all about getting the flywheel in motion. We still have to demonstrate what is possible and in many ways, the support structures that we are advocating for are relatively simple to set up. We also need to learn from the partner’s perspective to keep it in motion. It’s important to hear what barriers and limitations they face and how they demonstrate the value of these support structures both internally and externally. Finding the right partner at this early stage is all about finding the teams that are ready to be pioneers in this space and do the work that is needed to pull the rest of the industry into the vision.
The next stage will be to expand the program to additional race environments. What can you tell us about the next steps?
It comes back to that flywheel. We’re in the pilot and iterate stage as much as the demonstrate value phase. We need both sides of the coin. We’re looking for additional long-distance races but there are other race environments (triathlons, cycling, etc) that would benefit from the mission and the message. The latter being. “Moms/caregivers exist here.”
&Mother aims to break the barriers that limit a woman’s choice to pursue and thrive in both career and motherhood.
What are you most hopeful about in your work?
I think the world is finally waking up to the reality of the childcare crisis, the critical importance of paid leave, the need to support breastfeeding, and any choices in infant feeding, etc. These topics have all finally made the front page where previously they had been banished to back sections. Of course, federal policy and investment have not been followed yet, but the cultural momentum is there. Even if the wave of progress for gender equity is made out of molasses, I’m hopeful that our work is generating an undercurrent that fuels the wave in the right direction.
If you could tell the world one thing about &Mother and shout it from the rooftops, what would it be?
Gender equity hinges on reversing the motherhood penalty. Reversing the motherhood penalty hinges on changing the way we see, value, and support all elements of choice in the parenting journey.