Recently Baloch MPA Mahjabeen Sheran Baloch was asked to leave the assembly session she was participating in. Was she rowdy? Did she misbehave, or cause the proceedings to be interrupted in any way? No. The reason she was ejected was because she had brought her toddler to work. The child was ill and Baloch had no help, so instead of missing work she decided to bring her son along. The child hadn’t caused a ruckus or created distractions in the time he was actually present on the floor with his mother, but evidently women in the workplace are still so unique to us that any evidence of a woman’s life outside of her work is still a source of horror and amazement. So much that an MPA had to abandon a work day because her colleagues had an issue. It is a glorious example of the unqiue human trait of only being able to be critical of situations, but never doing anything to actually help change that situation.

We’ve seen all the inspiring photos of female legislators all over the world who have brought their babies to work. Licia Ronzulli, an Italian politician who sat on the European Union parliament, brought her 44-day old baby daughter to vote in Strasbourg in 2010, cradled in a baby-wearing sling. Since then, Ronzulli kept bringing little Vittoria to work, and the photos of Vittoria with her mother—raising her hand to vote with her, drawing on a notepad sitting in her mother’s lap or just hanging out wearing a big bobble hat—have become a benchmark of sweetness, but also a clear statement of the multiple roles women have to juggle. Michelle Dockril, a Canadian member of parliament in 1998, was amongst the first women to take their baby to parliament when she took her seven-month old to work with her. Similarly in Argentina, in Chile, in New Zealand—the list goes on and on. Ms Baloch is probably the first politician to bring her baby into an assembly chamber in Pakistan, but we also have the example of Assistant Commissioner Sarah Tawab, who took her five month old daughter along on her rounds of Peshawar’s food stalls.

Let’s be quite frank: nobody would take their child to work if there was a reliable person to look after the baby. Children are distracting and they have needs that trump other adult concerns. But children are an immovable fact of life too, and just because people have them should not mean that a career is now impossible. The burden of hiding the responsibilities of childrearing usually falls on working mothers, who tend to minimize the ingress of children in their work lives. They’ll take a sick day, for example, instead of admitting that the actual sick person is a child—because one loses credibility as an employee by being honest in this regard. It is also more common for working mothers to have to take leave to look after ill children, or attend school events than working fathers. These are not all quirks of society or biology—this is how deeply entrenched the notion of work being for men is. This is how subtly women are actively hampered from pursuing profitable and fulfilling careers. It’s not rocket science to consider a daycare in a workplace for women with children. It’s not an unusual thing to consider that some mothers nurse their babies, and might need a comfortable and private space to do so. Some women have even nursed their babies in parliament, because when a baby is hungry that’s what you do—feed them. It’s caused uproar, but the real reason for an uproar shouldn’t be that an elected representative of a legislative body did two jobs at the same time. It should be that there is no infrastructure that supports a woman working and being a mother simultaneously.

Most women who have had to bring their children to work have done it because they didn’t have alternative childcare available. Some parents cannot afford it and some parents prefer not to have a nanny. But it is a universal fact that people have children and parents will always need to work, so what are we doing to support that? In Pakistan, precious little. What kind of members of a society are we that on the one hand trumpets the importance of family and a mother’s care, but on the other hand also expects that family—or that mother—to be invisible? Mahjabeen Baloch was doing her job, but she was also being an attentive mother. It’s not necessarily a mutually exclusive situation. And with daycare in workplaces and better maternity and paternity leave policies in place, an environment of support and community-building will be fostered in which the welfare of children is seen as a collective responsibility, not a cause for embarrassment or rebuke. It’s an ambition for inclusivity and support that representatives of our government would do well to aspire to.