BBC presenter and mother Mishal Hussain attacks pressures on women

‘Cult of the superwoman made me do mad things’: BBC presenter and mother of three Mishal Hussain attacks pressures on women to flawlessly juggle work, motherhood and a personal life

The cult of the ‘superwoman’ is damaging to new mothers and could push them to return to work too soon, Mishal Husain has warned.

The BBC presenter said the pressures pushed her into doing ‘everything at once’ as she tried to juggle her demanding career with raising three sons.

The 45-year-old had Rafael, 13, and twins Zaki and Musa, 12, within two years.

Miss Husain, who is married to lawyer Meekal Hashmi, described her life as ‘intense after returning to work following the birth of her twins. She revealed that during this time she once changed a shopping delivery order from thousands of miles away in China only minutes before a live broadcast [File photo]

She admitted she could not have become a presenter on Radio 4’s Today programme when they were younger because of the demanding schedule.

Miss Husain’s comments on the pressure many feel to be perfect while juggling work, motherhood and a personal life came at the Cheltenham Literature Festival.

‘I think the image, or the cult even, of the superwoman is deeply unhelpful’, she said. ‘You end up thinking “Well, she seems to be managing it all, so why am I struggling?”’

Miss Husain also warned that unsociable working structures were blocking woman from taking top jobs after having children. ‘Look at the job I do,’ she said. ‘Imagine if the Today programme presenter’s job was structured around two presenters, five days a week’ [File photo]

Miss Husain, who is married to lawyer Meekal Hashmi, described her life as ‘intense after returning to work following the birth of her twins. She revealed that during this time she once changed a shopping delivery order from thousands of miles away in China only minutes before a live broadcast.

‘I look back and I think I did some mad things. Beijing Olympics, summer of 2008, I still had three children in nappies.

‘I remember sitting at the foot of the camera during a live position in Beijing and suddenly realising we were running out of nappies and I had just enough time to alter the supermarket delivery so more nappies were delivered to the house.


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‘And I think, “Really?” I should have switched off. My husband really could have dealt with that. But I was probably trying to do everything at the same time.’

Miss Husain also warned that unsociable working structures were blocking woman from taking top jobs after having children.

‘Look at the job I do,’ she said. ‘Imagine if the Today programme presenter’s job was structured around two presenters, five days a week.

‘I would not be prepared to spend the vast majority of my week not having an evening with my family, not being able to go out in the evening. That would not be a job that would attract me and the same would be true of many other people.’

Carey: I’m too tired to text!

The Great Gatsby star Carey Mulligan, above [File photo]

With her impeccable appearance on the red carpet and in public, Carey Mulligan looks to be juggling motherhood and acting with aplomb.

But the Great Gatsby star, 33, has revealed looking after her two children leaves her too exhausted to even send a text.

The actress, pictured, said she ‘runs out of steam by 7.30’ after cooking them dinner and putting them to bed, and finds it hard to keep in touch with friends.

Miss Mulligan, who has three-year-old daughter Evelyn and 14-month-old son Wilfred with pop star Marcus Mumford, told The Sunday Times: ‘Now I have children I just don’t have the time to work relentlessly.’ 

She said she can’t even send texts because she is always pushing a pram or holding a baby.

Last year’s disclosure by the BBC of the pay of leading staff revealed that Miss Husain was only earning half the salary of her Today colleague John Humphrys.

He was given between £600,000 and £649,999 in the year to April 2017 while she earned between £200,000 and £249,000.

Miss Husain also told how she returned to work after her twins were born but did not go abroad until they were aged 18 months. ‘When I went back to work, frankly I was quite grateful to be leaving the house and doing something else’, she said.

‘But I said, “I can’t travel on breaking stories in other parts of the world any more”. The first story I travelled on was when Benazir Bhutto was assassinated in December 2007. I suddenly thought “Yes, I can leave them, they’re old enough, I can leave them for a few days, it’ll be fine”.’

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