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A collage looking through a window at a mother and a baby silhouette.

Mothers in the Margins

with Barkaa and Karen Pickering

10 March 2024

In the Yallamundi Rooms

Sydney Opera House Presents

Talks and Ideas

It is, we are told, one of the most rewarding things a human being can do, but motherhood can look a whole lot different when you’re raising your kid on your own, or at the intersections of racism and ableism. Join this panel as they ask how and why society makes one of the greatest jobs in the world so damned hard. 

Co-curated by Clementine Ford

I don’t think one parent can raise a child. I don’t think two parents can raise a child. You really need the whole village.

Toni Morrison, single mother

The mother of all jobs

Motherhood is one of our most revered institutions. Churches extol the sanctity of it. Politicians praise the kitchen-table pragmatism of it. There’s even a day to celebrate it, with more restaurant lunches booked than at any other time of the year (for those who can afford it). 

But it’s a far different story when you’re raising a kid on your own, navigating the Byzantine system of disability support, or contending with deep-seated racism and intergenerational disadvantage. Mothers who find themselves marginalised by society are often looked on with suspicion, castigated for being irresponsible, and punished by policy-makers. 

Join this panel of writers and thought leaders as they ask what it takes to ensure every child gets a fair go, and every mother gets the respect she deserves.

Sydney Opera House Presents


BARKAA (she/her)

BARKAA is a Malyangapa, Barkindji woman from Western New South Wales, now living in South West Sydney on Gandangara land. Music to BARKAA has been part of her journey to express herself, the truth and issues impacting First Nations people. Her debut album was Blak Matriarchy, so named "in honour of powerful First Nations women who've paved the way for future generations", including her mother. 

Karen Pickering (she/her)

Karen Pickering is a feminist writer and organiser. Her previous work includes the feminist talkshow, Cherchez La Femme, Girls On Film Festival, and the books About Bloody Time and Doing It. Her next book, The Mother of All Shocks, examines the structural impact of new motherhood on women, and will be published by Pantera Press. She’s a proud single mum and sole carer, late diagnosis neurodivergent, and frequently erased bisexual, who wants only to make the world better for her son, herself, and everyone else.

Other information

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