The word ‘mama’ has been used around the world to denote the person who has birthed or taken the primary caring role, the provider of nourishment. This could be the birthing mother, an adoptive parent, or other relatives, including grandparents.
In the context of our work at Project MAMA, we use the word mama as it is recognisable to people from different cultural and language backgrounds to denote people who are pregnant or that have given birth.
Linguists have recognised that the word ‘mama’ probably has more to do with feeding requests than a recognition of the role the person plays in the baby’s life, in any way, we use the word mama as it is recognisable to most people from different cultural and language backgrounds to denote people who are pregnant or that have given birth.
Having said that, we uphold and honour the right to self-determination and bodily autonomy for all people, particularly those accessing our support. Therefore, we have adopted a gender-additive language approach across our communication channels. Gender-additive language means using gender-neutral language alongside the language of womanhood, ensuring that everyone is represented and included.
Given the heavily nature of perinatal care, we are aware that gender identity can be a source of oppression and health inequality. At Project MAMA, we are consciously using the words ‘women’ and ‘people’ together to make it clear that we are committed to working on addressing health inequalities for all those who access our support.