Europe

Danish MP’s baby ‘not welcome’ in chamber

A Danish MP has spoken out after being told to remove her baby from the parliament’s chamber.

Mette Abildgaard said it was the first time she had brought her five-month-old daughter to work, as her father could not step in to take care of her.

Pia Kjaersgaard, parliament speaker and ex-leader of the right-wing Danish People’s Party, reportedly told her she was “not welcome” with her baby.

Ms Kjaersgaard said clearer guidelines should be given for MPs with children.

In a post on Facebook, Ms Abildgaard, who is group leader of the Conservative People’s Party, said she had witnessed another colleague taking their child to work without any problems so she did not ask permission to do so.

She said she had agreed with her secretary that if her baby made “the slightest noise”, she would not take her into the chamber, but as her daughter was “in a good mood” she decided to take her in.

Ms Kjaersgaard then passed a message to an assistant, asking the MP to remove her baby. “MPs should be in the chamber, not babies or children,” Ms Kjaersgaard later told news agency Ritzau.

Her spokesman told Denmark’s BT tabloid that she was only following the rules as speaker of Parliament and felt the baby was “disturbing the meeting”.

Denmark is among the most generous providers of parental leave in the world. New mothers are entitled to 18 weeks, with both parents entitled to a further 32 weeks which they can split between them as they please.

In her Facebook post, Ms Abildgaard said she had chosen to return to work “to serve democracy”.

“A chamber that represents mothers, fathers and babies ought to be open to mothers, fathers and babies,” one Facebook user said in a comment.

This was not the first time that bringing a baby into the political sphere has made headlines.

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern brought her baby along to her debut speech at the UN in New York in September, becoming the first world leader to attend a general assembly meeting with her child.

And last year, footage of Canadian minister Karina Gould breastfeeding her son in parliament went viral.

Laws in Western Australia are currently being discussed to allow mothers to breastfeed in parliament, but the proposals sparked controversy by not also allowing for bottle-feeding.

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