'March of the Mummies' takes place in Manchester

Video report by Granada Reports Journalist Claire Hannah

Hundreds of 'Mummies' have joined a rally in Manchester to demand urgent reform of childcare, parental leave and flexible working.

The Halloween-themed demonstration was part of a nationwide protest organised by charity Pregnant Then Screwed to shine a light on what they call "the horrific treatment of mums in the UK".

Almost 2,000 people gathered in St Peter's Square, with families and young children donning Halloween costumes and holding placards saying "Your Monster Childcare" and "Mums deserve better".

Campaigners wore Halloween costumes Credit: ITV news

What does the Pregnant then Screwed campaign group want?

The day of action was organised by campaign group "Pregnant then Screwed" Credit: ITV news

It wants change on three key issues that are pushing mothers out of the workforce and into poverty:

  • Increased funding for the childcare sector to enable affordable, high quality childcare for all children

  • Ring-fenced and properly paid maternity and paternity leave 

  • All jobs to be flexible by default

Campaigners in Manchester told ITV News: "This is a UK wide social issue which has gone unaddressed for way too long.

"I'm sure new Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has a lot on his plate at the moment but the amount of people that have come out today just goes to show what a real problem it is."

Joeli Brearley, Founder and CEO of Pregnant Then Screwed said:

"Mothers from all over the UK have come together today because enough is enough and we want urgent progress on women’s rights.

"It’s the 21st Century, yet 54,000 mothers are being pushed out of the workforce every year for simply daring to procreate.

"We have the second most expensive childcare in the OECD, the third worst ranking maternity benefit and the worst ranking paternity benefit in Europe.

"The childcare sector is in a mess, thousands of nurseries have collapsed this year alone. We have had enough."

One of the placards in Manchester Credit: ITV news

Joeli Brearley continued: "The recent mini budget made it very clear that this Government neither understands nor cares about the challenges mothers are experiencing.

"Women’s economic empowerment hinges on a system that works for us, and the government needs to start taking this, us, seriously.

"We are calling for an end to the shambolic support system that is failing mothers and families everywhere. We want to see change now."

Campaigners say they "want change now" Credit: ITV news

The Government has responded to the day of action with this statement:

"The Government is committed to supporting working parents and helping them participate and progress in their working life in a way that’s fair and suits them.

"The UK has one of the most generous maternity leave entitlements in the world and to support working parents we have spent more than £20 billion over the past five years to improve the cost, choice, and availability of childcare.

"We want employees to be able to request when, where, and how they work, and that’s why the Government has recently consulted on making the right to request flexible working a day one right for all employees."