Jobs and Career
Working mums key for development
Posted Friday, March 22 2013 at 02:00
Contrary to the traditional thinking that women are a liability to companies because of the time they take off for maternity, research points to a different picture.
Harriet Atim, a new mother, believes more leave days should be given to mothers to help them raise their babies from the fragile stages.
“It would be okay if we are given at least six months unpaid leave to allow us take care of our babies from that fragile stage. This means that when you report back to work you can concentrate and do your work well,” Ms Atim argues.
“I have thought of quitting, but because I like what I do and I need to think of my family’s welfare, it forces me to hang in there,” Carol Beyanga, a journalist and mother of two daughters, shares her experience.
Some of the things that really bother her for example, include the fact that she cannot pick her daughter from school at 4pm even with repeated pleas and questioning from the child as to why “her mummy never picks her from school.”
She adds: “I have managed only once or so to pick her from school. And then I get to see the baby just a few hours a week and I am thinking – ‘What kind of a mother am I?’ Like a friend of mine said, you cannot have a work/motherhood balance. The scale always tips more to one side. There is just no winning.”
Emily Rutagwera, a mother of two, says: “It is tough being a working mother. Sometimes I just want a few days where I can be off duty on one of the two (work and mothering) to sort out the other, but I can never have that liberty anymore; I would still be worrying about work or the children.”
A mother’s role
She adds that if it had not been for the fact that her mother, who was single, never quit her job or her mothering roles, she would have quit long ago- but then at the back of her mind she still thinks that one day she might quit one of them.
A growing number of professional women still find that the burden of child care forces them out of employment after maternity.
A new survey by Regus, one of the world’s largest providers of flexible workplaces, indicates that this urgently needs to be stemmed. According to the research, the workforce continues to lose able and trained workers’ key skills and qualifications as women find the burden of childcare cannot be reconciled with working life.
Regus’ vice president for Africa, Joanne Bushell, says: “There is a strong case for the greater inclusion of returning mothers in the workforce. Increased GDP, sustains growth, bridges the skills gap and fights poverty.
“Even on a business level, the benefits of re-integrating women after maternity are plenty; access to skilled and trained workers, less staff turnover and even increased productivity.
“This survey reveals that workers overwhelmingly identify greater flexibility in terms of working hours and location as the solution to get more women back on board after maternity,” Bushell adds.
As working habits globally evolve in favour of greater flexibility, this research suggests that changes in working practices are particularly urgently required for returning mothers whose contribution to the business and the economy is otherwise hampered.
Over 26,000 business people from more than 90 countries were interviewed during January 2013. Respondents were asked which measures they thought were critical to encouraging returning mothers back into the workforce as well as some more general views on returning mothers in the workplace.
“Not only are returning mothers key to economic development, but at a business-by-business level, respondents reported that hiring returning mothers helps improve productivity, possibly by lowering training and hiring costs,” Regus survey noted.
“This result confirms previous Regus research revealing that 56 per cent of businesses globally value part-time returning mothers because they offer skills and experience which are difficult to find in the current market. 72 per cent believe that companies that ignore part-time returning mothers are missing out on a significant and valuable part of the employment pool,” the Regus survey noted.