About Us

Discover the Power of Motherhood: Empowering Mothers and Beyond.

Helping Moms Be Their Best Selves

Let’s Be Better Together

IAMAS’ (International Association of Maternal Action and Scholarship) roots are as an academic organization, but our members are more than just scholars. We are activists from dozens of countries who want to help all moms be their best selves with the supportive, proactive community they need to do that.

We strive to increase meaningful conversation among maternal advocates regardless of their field or experience. Our members are educators, members of the media, politicians, community activists, health practitioners, businesswomen, and much more.

IAMAS wants to use our collective knowledge to help moms – whether it is providing information so they can get reform they need, supporting legislation that helps caregivers, or sharing the collective knowledge of women in differing communities and reimagining what could work in our won.

Most moms take the culture of motherhood as a given, when it doesn’t have to be. It can be better. We can expect (and demand) better support from our partners, communities, places of employment, and governments. Motherhood isn’t new, but the ways we support moms can be. Let’s be better together.

7 Core Beliefs

Motherhood is hard, always has been, always will be, but right now it’s harder than it needs to be. That’s why IAMAS is zeroed in on the deep-rooted changes that must happen to make the “hard” more manageable. Read our IAMAS Beliefs, the 7 reasons we need to exist, now.

Women carry an unfair burden of child-rearing via the demands of intensive mothering, inequitable expectations concerning emotional/cognitive labor, and outdated gender norms regarding carework.

Our governments and economic sectors should contribute more to the work and cost of child-rearing (specifically via childcare and family leave reform), thereby acknowledging that this carework is done not only as a matter of personal choice but is labor that strengthens the future of civic and economic vitality.
Mothers must be better informed and organized in order to demand the substantial support that is required. The current set-up of dual, low-wage working families and single-parent/income families is unsustainable.
One’s gender and sex organs aren’t always the same, but we need to talk about how mothers and those who are doing the work of mothering have different needs – and need different protections – legally, economically, and socially. We support and welcome all who identify as mothers, do the work of mothering, and want to advocate for mothers and mothering.
Motherhood can and should be a place of empowerment, not oppression. Our countries and employers require women to continue to replace our population. Let’s claim the power in that.
Women need support so that they can mother effectively and be economically independent. Much of the “choice” regarding opting out of work is an illusion. This can harm economically strained families and creates a massive drain of resources that our countries and businesses need to have our country succeed.
Children need stable care and mothers should have the opportunity to provide that care.

“To destroy the institution is not to abolish motherhood. It is to release the creation and sustenance of life into the same realm of decision, struggle, surprise, imagination, and conscious intelligence, as any other difficult, but freely chosen work”

— Adrienne Rich, Of Woman Born: Motherhood as Experience and Institution

What Mother Means at IAMAS

IAMAS’ name is pronounced I-AM-MAS. Mas means “more” in Spanish. This name was chosen for multiple reasons, including the idea that while many of our members identify as mothers, we are also more than mothers. We are also “more” together. (Additionally, “ma” is an informal name for mother in some communities.)

IAMAS welcomes ANYONE who identifies as a mother or conducts research and advocacy work that centers mothers, mothering, and motherwork. We recognize that mothers are created through pregnancy, childbirth, adoption, surrogacy, loss, and unchosen sterility. Motherhood contains the act of mothering, while it is also, for some, an embodied experience.

In other words, we give space both to the physical labor of creation that many cis-gender and trans folks take on, but also acknowledge that many mothers have never carried a child. We agree with Sara Ruddick that anyone can mother (as a verb) or be a mother (as a noun). This title is not limited to one’s gender, sex, or to one’s way of being or acting. Mothering is about fostering growth, love, carework, and community. It is about identity and mindset. It is about honoring the past, being present in the moment, and looking to the future.

We at IAMAS give space to the fact that the physicality of mothering and the cultural expectations that are shaped by the patriarchal institution of motherhood can impact women negatively, particularly via limited conceptions of the “good” mother and intensive mothering, wage inequalities that are directly linked to motherhood (rather than child-free women), burdensome idealizations of the feminine and selflessness, and maternal health disparities. Pregnancy, birth, and nursing can be empowering for some women, but these practices can also lead to oppression, trauma, and even death.

Motherhood, as a series of actions or sense of identity, can be empowering, but this empowerment is seldom realized. The disempowerment women experience is not inherent to the role of mother, but is socially produced, often being exacerbated by the patriarchal institution of motherhood. Systems of power and oppression, including racism, sexism, classism, ableism, and more lead to an undervaluing of carework more broadly and motherhood more specifically. We aim to dismantle these systems through academic research and theory building, teaching, writing, art creation, advocacy and activism, discussion, and our own parenting/mothering praxis.

Motherhood contains multitudes, to borrow from Walt Whitman. Each of us has a mother or mothers, but each of our mothers is/was unique — as is each of our relationships to our mother(s). Similarly, each of us comes to motherhood differently. What the name “mother” means to each of us varies by virtue of our personality, life experiences, cultural communities, race, class, religious affiliation, sexual and gender orientation, and much more. While there is no single definition of good mothering, we aim to have more mothers thrive.

The question of what motherhood is or what makes a mother is an evolving conversation – one our members work through academically and often personally for years. We welcome all to consider what their contribution may be to this conversation and many others.