Joan Bakewell: modern women should have children first and then focus on their career

Telegraph Reporters
Dame Joan Bakewe - Rex

Dame Joan Bakewell has issued a stark warning to modern women who delay motherhood, advising them to have children before focusing on their career.

The broadcaster, who is a veteran campaigner for gender equality at work, said modern women should not delay motherhood to "have more fun".

The Labour peer added that being a mother later in life also took a toll on women in terms of the "physical stress" it put on their bodies.

"Women have shaped their lives differently," she said. "Women now want to have more of the fun and delay marrying, if they marry at all, as well as having children," the Daily Mail reported.

Dame Joan Bakewell on Late Night Line Up in 1967

She added: "That's a major, major change in a woman's life. Just biologically, were designed to have babies at a young age and now we're having babies when we're older, which is a physical stress."

The 83-year-old has two children, Matthew and Harriet, with TV producer Michael Bakewell, who she was married to for 17 years.

While she has admitted to struggling to balance work and motherhood, she said having her daughter at the age of just 25 meant they are "good friends" now.

Speaking at the English National Opera gala in London, she said: "I was married at 22 and had a child at 25. Looking back now, there are advantages to having your children earlier.

"My point is, you have them, you can spend a lot of time on them, and then by the time they're ten you've still got your career.

"My daughter's a good friend of mine and she's only 25 years younger than me. So we're good friends - my son, too - and I think that has partly come about because I had them when I did.

"I didn't wait till I was in my 40s. You can get all the mothering stuff out of the way."

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