Charity campaigner short-listed for Sheila McKechnie prize

A Croydon-based activist has been named among the finalists for the prestigious Shelia McKechnie Foundation Young Campaigner of the Year award.

Sophia Moreau: up for a top campaigner prize

Sophia Moreau began her career in Croydon as an equality and diversity advocate in 2011. By 2019, Moreau was described by Melinda Gates as a role model for her work in equality and human rights campaigning.

The SMK Campaigner Awards winners are to be revealed tomorrow.

Moreau has been nominated for her leadership of the campaign to end student maternity discrimination.

The campaign originated when Moreau lobbied for the removal of discriminatory clauses from Birkbeck college’s extensions policies.

Education institutions are required by law to make maternity provisions for their employees, but these same protections do not exist for student mothers. The effects of this can range from a lack of flexible working, to students being pressured to quit their courses.

“If we accept a motherhood penalty in study or training, then we are accepting dire consequences for career development, blocked generational mobility, and even child poverty,” Moreau said.

“If women can’t access training and education because they’ve dared to reproduce, what exactly does this suggest for the pay gap at work if you’re unable to get entry level qualifications, or blocked from further development opportunities like an MBA?

“At all levels, absence of provisions for student mothers is deeply concerning.”

Moreau is now the head of student rights at Pregnant Then Screwed, a charity campaigning against the motherhood penalty and which provides support, including free legal advice.

Moreau started a peer support and advice hub for students, which helps people facing obstacles in education due to pregnancy or parenting young children. This can range from navigating complaints procedures to legal support. It is believed to be the only advice service specifically for students facing and tackling maternity discrimination.

The Sheila McKechnie Foundation 2021 National Campaigner Awards take place from 4pm tomorrow, May 13, streaming live on YouTube.

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News, views and analysis about the people of Croydon, their lives and political times in the diverse and most-populated borough in London. Based in Croydon and edited by Steven Downes. To contact us, please email
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