Today is International Women’s Day while March month is marking Women’s month. It needs to be celebrated daily not just one day or just one month a year.
The theme for this year is to embrace equity.
Let’s peel this theme layer by layer.
To embrace equity means to actively work towards ensuring that everyone has equal access to opportunities, resources, and outcomes, regardless of their background or circumstances.
It involves recognising and addressing historical and systemic injustices that have created barriers and disparities for marginalized groups, such as people of colour, women, LGBTQ+ individuals, people with disabilities, and those living in poverty.
Embracing equity requires a commitment to diversity, inclusion, and social justice, and involves actively seeking out and valuing diverse perspectives and experiences.
It also means acknowledging and challenging biases and stereotypes, and creating a culture of respect and empathy where everyone feels valued and heard.
The history of women’s equity is a long and complex one, spanning centuries and continents. Women have been fighting for equality and recognition for their contributions to society for thousands of years, and while progress has been made, there is still much work to be done.
Today, women continue to face many challenges, including gender-based violence, pay inequity, and limited representation in political and corporate leadership roles.
However, the ongoing efforts of women’s rights activists have led to significant progress and increased awareness of the need for gender equity and equality.
The image below hits hard home. I am a single working mum, so it is like having 2 jobs. When I finish one job, I start the other job. Both jobs are connected to some degree.
I am not discounting the fact that there are great partners or husbands out there who are helping with the house chores.
I am glad that the housekeeping role is now more balanced, and I am also aware that in the complete family, some mums feel like single mum because all the housekeeping become mums’ tasks to complete.
In the traditional family life set up where only one parent is working while the other parent is staying at home to care for the children with the help of the village of extended families, mum’s life seems to be simple.
It would typically involve tasks such as cooking, cleaning, laundry, grocery shopping, and childcare. In many cultures, it was expected that the mother would stay at home full-time to take care of the family’s needs.
In comparison, where a mum is working, the daily chores include all the above tasks, as well as managing work responsibilities outside of the home. This can include commuting, attending meetings, responding to emails, and completing work assignments.
Working mums may also need to balance their work responsibilities with their children’s schedules, such as dropping them off at school or daycare, attending parent-teacher conferences, attending sports events, and helping with homework.
While the daily chores of a mum have not changed drastically over time, the expectations, and pressures on working mums to balance their work and family responsibilities have increased significantly in recent years.
This leads to burnout (Read my other blog on 5 steps to avoid burnout).
Every choice we make in life leads to different paths and I am all about taking reasonable risks in life, but we need to be brave enough to stick with the decision and embrace the challenges that come with it.
Own the decision! Don’t be a quitter!
How do we embrace equity in the motherhood gig when a mum is choosing to have a career while raising children?
In this century, I am stunned when hearing how working mums are cornered to choose between careers and caring for families. This is where mums’ preference divides.
While other mums chose to care for children and be Stay-At-Home Mums (SAHM) while they are young with the argument of children are only young for a short period.
The other mums chose to have a career and raise their children. The worst part is when they are shamed for the decision they make.
In my view, parents are only young for a short period too especially since more mums now have children in their mid-30ish to 40ish.
Once upon a time, parents got married in their youth so they are quite young (say 40 years old) when the children are growing up and parents still can have their time for a later career.
In sharing my view, there is no way the intention of shaming other mums’ decisions. I just want to point out the reason I chose my option.
I had my baby when I was 36 and my career was on the rise. I got pregnant, chose to keep my baby and pause my career to bear and raise my son. I returned to work after 8 months of maternity leave.
I consciously chose to return to work because I could see the impact of staying out of job for a prolonged time (That is for another blog).
Was it an easy decision to return to work after maternity leave?
No, it wasn’t. I had to return to work due to financial aspects because I separated from my ex-partner when my son was only 1 year old.
Would I stay at home if I didn’t get separated?
No, because I was a career woman, I built my professional life before I had my baby so I don’t want to give up that life.
If you choose to work, you got this!
I want to share some common options to balance work and family responsibilities and survive the expectation and pressure of modern-day living that could be benefiting you.
- Flexible work arrangements
Many employers offer flexible work arrangements, such as telecommuting, part-time work, or flexible scheduling. These options can allow working mums to better manage their time and balance their work and family responsibilities. Ask because if you don’t ask, the answer will always be no.
Train that negotiation flex muscle. Thank you to covid pandemic for making this flexible work arrangement easier to be requested than pre-covid pandemic time.
Working mums may choose to hire a nanny, use a daycare center, or rely on family members to provide childcare while they work. It is essential to find reliable, trustworthy, and safe options for childcare.
I am not ashamed to use all my village so I can go to work.
Outsourcing household tasks
Working mums may choose to outsource some of their household tasks, such as cleaning, laundry, or meal preparation. This can help free up more time to focus on work and family responsibilities. I don’t outsource at this stage, but I have a system in place such as meal planning and decluttering. (Read my blog on A Busy Mum’s Hacks to Minimalism)
Working mums need to prioritise self-care to avoid burnout. This can include taking breaks during the workday, engaging in regular exercise or hobbies, and seeking support from friends or a mental health professional if needed.
I use simple practical routines to ensure that I look after myself daily instead of only attending to my health when I am sick although as a human being sick is inevitable.
Once we accept sickness as a part of living, we are at peace when we are sick and need to rest. (Read my blog on 10 Daily Practicals Routine)
Open and clear communication with the employer, partner and family members can help navigate responsibilities and expectations effectively.
Working mums can benefit from developing good time management skills. It involves creating a daily schedule, prioritising tasks, and setting realistic goals to better manage their time and workload.
Ultimately, there is no one-size-fits-all approach for working mums to balance work and family responsibilities. The best approach will depend on the individual situation, needs, and preferences.
However, for the sake of mum’s out there and for future mums, challenge the status quo to be part of the movement to embrace equity in this motherhood gig while not forgetting your old self.
Here are some ways that we can achieve equity for working mums:
Working mums should be paid the same as their male counterparts for doing the same job. This can help to reduce the gender pay gap and support working mums’ financial stability.
Flexible work arrangements
Employers should provide flexible work arrangements that allow working parents to balance their work and family responsibilities. This can include telecommuting, part-time work, or flexible scheduling.
Access to affordable, high-quality childcare is critical for working parents to be able to maintain their employment. Government and employers can support working parents by providing affordable and accessible childcare options.
Paid parental leave can help working parents take time off work to care for their newborn child without having to worry about losing their job or income. Both government and employers can support working parents by offering paid parental leave.
Employers should encourage and support work-life balance for working parents. This can include offering employee assistance programs, wellness programs, and other benefits that support work-life balance.
Empowering women leaders
We need more women in leadership positions to help support and promote equity for working mums. Employers and organisations should actively seek to promote and hire more women into leadership roles.
We need to shift cultural attitudes toward working mums and eliminate gender stereotypes. We can do this by promoting positive role models and showcasing the contributions and successes of working mums.
We can’t do this exclusively without our male counterparts. We need to create an alliance with dads counterpart to make this happen.
They will also be benefiting from this equity movement so the pressure of them always becoming the breadwinner will also reduce.
By embracing equity for working mums, we can create a more inclusive and supportive workplace and society that values the contributions of working mothers and promotes gender equality.
Keep well and talk soon.