Here’s an article from the International Labour Organization’s Newsroom. It discusses the findings of the ILO-Gallup report, “Towards a better future for women and work: Voices of women and men ”. If you don’t have time to read the entire report, here’s a summary of key findings.
Some excerpts and my comments:
“Reconciling work with care for their families, however, poses a significant challenge for working women globally.”
You must have heard of the African proverb, “It take a village to raise a child.” Parents have to build great networks to help them bring up their children. Just make sure that people in your network have a positive influence on kids. It is a collective effort and don’t mistaken it with outsourcing. Your group can get together and talk about skills, interest and preference. Then, when it’s someone’s turn, they can volunteer to teach kids a new skill, or engage them in an activity or just relax and have some meaningful conversations. It’s a bonus if the people in your network are diverse!
Delegation and automation also helps with several routine tasks. Take advantage of technology and automate certain tasks. Hire help for other tasks and if you can’t afford it at this time, share the workload with family members. It is a great way to get the kids engaged and have fun while doing a family chore. I strongly believe that kids should have at least one daily chore, no matter what size, as it teaches kids to be responsible.
“In Northern Africa, sub-Saharan Africa, Southern Asia and the Arab States, “family members do not approve of women working” is among the top five most frequently mentioned obstacles that working women face.”
I consider myself very lucky that I had a working mom who taught me very early on in my childhood what it means to balance work and family life. She was a devoted teacher until she retired a few years ago and still motivates me to do my best. My mother in law is equally supportive of me and constantly encourages me and instills the confidence in me that if a woman can think of something, she can do it! I am forever grateful to these two beautiful women in my life. However, I do know of families where either the parents or the in-laws don’t approve of women working. To them I would like to say this. Imagine how well-rounded the kids will be if both the parents participated in all aspects of their upbringing.
Some families let the woman work if she treats her family chores as priority. In other words, a working woman will still be responsible to come back home and take care of the kids, cook for the family, clean and help with the kids’ homework etc. She can’t afford to stay late at work or attend evening meetings or travel for extended periods and has to take leave of absence should something happen to kids. Some families are also worried about how their daughters or daughters-in-law will be treated at work. Attitudes take time to change and there is already a lot of change happening in these countries. Women are able to go out and work and families are not only approving it but are proud of it.
In conclusion, men and women in a family should sit together and come up with a plan on what works best for their family. If a woman wants to work, the men in the family should try to come up with strategies to accommodate it. It is best not to make assumptions on either side!