Recently, a mothering student was expelled from her studies, because she had been absent too often. The educational institution did not consider the care for her two young children as a permissible reason for her abscence, not even when they were ill. This is a problem that many mothering students face. This, therefore, appears to account to discrimination based on sex.
The consequences of the expulsion by the educational institution for the mother and her children were immense. Her student grant would immediately become a debt, which would lead to the eviction of the family from their home.
Thankfully, the mother decided to take action against the expulsion. She contacted the Vereniging voor Vrouw en Recht and was referred to the PILP and the coalition Mothering Students. Since 2015, they have been in dialogue with the Ministry of Education, Culture and Science and the associations of educational facilities on the problems that pregnant and mothering students are facing and their human rights.
The PILP put the mothering student in touch with lawyer Elsa van de Loo of Advocatenkantoor Roos. Thanks to her work, the mothering student was allowed to return to her studies. According to Elsa van de Loo: “Pregnancy discrimination, or discrimination based on young motherhood happens to almost 50% of all working women. That this also often happens to students is not as well-known. Many students are not aware of the fact that they too have a right to pregnancy leave and adjustments in their schedule. Thankfully, this mother looked for help to protect her rights. Now she can continue her studies. It is also good to see that the problem can be solved by having a conversation with the school and that a longlasting legal procedure is not always necessary”.
Talking with the Ministry and the associations of educational facilities has led to positive outcomes. Maternity leave will be officially recognised in secondary vocational education. Still, a lack of support from the educational facilities to the mothering students is prevalent. That this mothering student has been expelled from her studies, shows that there are still many issues with regards to equal treatment in the right to education.
The story of this mothering student also shows that it actually helps to stand up for your rights. The PILP hopes that other mothering students will follow her example and fight for their right to education and equal treatment. To this end, the PILP is developing a guide that can be used by pregnant and mothering students.