It's fair to say that New Zealand bringing in bereavement leave for pregnancy loss has made waves around the world. I found myself converting my office into a studio last night for an interview with Australia's ABC News (above), and the story has also been shared in outlets including:
What's even more exciting is that our news seems to have sparked calls for other countries to update their employment legislation:
I'd love to know if anyone else has seen calls for change from other parts of the world.
There are five brochures about HIV in my local medical centre. Every year around 200 people in NZ will be diagnosed with HIV.
There are no brochures about miscarriage in my local medical centre. Every year around 20,000 women in NZ will experience miscarriage.
When I saw the brochure stand at my local medical centre I got really mad. It's great that there is information available on HIV, pregnancy, prostate checks and all sorts of other things. But there seems to be a cone of silence around miscarriage.
Unfortunately I suffered a miscarriage late last year. As a result of my experience I realised there is very little medical information about miscarriage available to women in New Zealand. And having a miscarriage doesn't even count as a reason to be bereaved under our Holidays Act!
I would like to use the power of the pen to change these things - and you can help.
Amending the Holidays Act
I've spoken to a local MP about amending the Holidays Act. She has suggested putting this forward as a private member's bill. But first I need some more support from other people. Have a read over my letter here, and if you agree that people who have suffered miscarriage should be able to take bereavement leave, drop me a line or leave a comment below. I'll include your comment and your initials in my next letter.
Providing more information to women
I have a lot of thoughts around this, but one simple thing we can do is advocate for more miscarriage information to be included in the NZ Pregnancy Book, which is soon to be updated. Have a read of my letter here, and if you agree that the country's leading book on pregnancy should also include information about miscarriage (an event that only occurs in women who are, duh, pregnant), get in touch (or leave a comment below) and I will include your initials in the letter to the publisher.
This is going to be slow going. I'm doing this around work, writing, maintaining my cat's social media presence... and I'm soon going to be running a Kickstarter crowd-funding campaign for my children's book. But I will post updates as I go, and I'd love to have your support.
2023 Burns fellow Kathryn van Beek has an MA from Victoria University Wellington - Te Herenga Waka’s International Institute of Modern Letters. She is a winner of the Mindfood Short Story Competition and the Headland Prize. Her collection of short stories, Pet, is available as a podcast, and her work has also appeared in Overland, takahē, Newsroom, and the Sunday Star-Times. She lives in UNESCO City of Literature Ōtepoti Dunedin with her two rescue cats.