Culture changing but stigma still exists, says director
A SHORT documentary entitled Deliver, looking at the perception and reality of being a young mother in Ireland today will be screened online by glór as part of the Lasta Festival.
It was made by Leah Moore, and focuses on two young women who became mothers in their teenage years, while taking a stylised exploration of women’s experiences throughout previous decades.
The two women are Rachel O’Connor from Doora and Lauren Byrne from Dublin.
“Basically it’s a documentary about the perception of young mothers in Ireland today and how our past has kind of shaped that perception, and trying to break down stigma around being a young mother.
“That’s kind of the premise and the goal of the documentary,” said Leah.
Both Rachel and Lauren are in their twenties now, having become mothers while still teenagers. In previous generations becoming a mother at such an early stage of life would have been viewed much more negatively, but there are still problems, Leah says.
“What I’ve found from the documentary is that we’re still battling a lot of those old stigmas that were placed upon mothers by the church and the influence it had in the healthcare and school systems.
“I think there’s definitely a way better perception now and the help these women are getting is way better than it was before, but I still think that we have a long way to go in treating young women as equals.
“Lauren, because of her age, couldn’t decide whether she wanted an epidural or couldn’t consent to getting gas or air, all of those decisions had to be made by a guardian, yet she was given a baby to look after.
“She wasn’t allowed make those choices for herself but she had to make all these choices for a young baby. Systematically, we have a little way to go.
“As a culture I think we’re getting better for sure. I can see a lot more positivity in the recent story compared to when talking to older women.”
There is also some exploration of the experiences of young mothers in previous decades.
“It’s kind of an abstract look at the past. We speak to women who were young mothers, who are now in their 30s or 40s or 50s or 60s.
“We’re using little snippets of their voice and pieces of their story in montage.
“We want to give a voice to those women as well, so part of their experience is in the film as well.”
She says Lauren and Rachel are both doing well nowadays.
“Lauren has her own place with her son, she runs, does marathons and things like that.
“Her son has some additional needs, she’s an amazing mother and a lot of her day is making sure that her son is getting the help that he needs.
“She’s in a really good place, he’s in the school that he needs to be in.
“Rachel is still living at home with her parents, but she’s just finishing up her masters and is going to be a secondary school teacher.
“They’re in really good positions, both of them, they seem really happy and they’re amazing Mams.
“They both come from really different backgrounds, Lauren comes from a working class Dublin background and Rachel comes from a middle class rural background.
“Their upbringings would have been different, but their stories in some ways are really similiar in how they think about raising their children and their own lives.”
The screening will be at 8.30pm on June 17 and will be followed by a panel discussion. While it is free to watch, registration is required and can be done on www.glor.ie