What you need to know:
- I do acknowledge the importance of closing the gender gap, especially in roles, but, how about at workplaces, where employers think about creating an environment for that woman to thrive without pretending to be a man, or even thinking less of themselves.
While working out in one of the gyms in the city, I happened to eavesdrop a conversation among three ladies. The topic is very interesting in the beginning but leaves me heartbroken. They are discussing their different families and how they are manoeuvering work and motherhood.
As the conversation progresses, I realise all is not well. I come to learn, two of them are single mothers and one is recently divorced, not by choice.
I picked more interest in the recently divorced. She says: “I just couldn’t keep up with the pressure. The man needed a lot of attention, the babies are also demanding, and I also need to grow my career. I just couldn’t, I had to let go.” You could feel it in her voice that she deeply loved her family.
I felt very heartbroken listening to their story, most of it rotating around failing to balance career and family. This could partially explain the growing trend of broken families and single motherhood.
Walking through the corridors of the corporate world today, many ladies are out there trying to figure out how to “not be a woman.”
There is this talk of gender equality, what a man can do, a woman can do even better and poor ladies are now out trying to figure out how to survive in “the equality era.” It is starting to feel wrong to be a woman, especially for our young generation. Families are tearing apart as we all fight to be at the table.
I do acknowledge the importance of closing the gender gap, especially in roles, but, how about at workplaces, where employers think about creating an environment for that woman to thrive without pretending to be a man, or even thinking less of themselves. Motherhood is beautiful and we all know family is the foundation of every nation. We should not be ashamed of upholding it.
I have been to some institutions like Uganda Management Institute (UMI) where there’s a lactation facility and trust me, those mothers amid their studies, are comfortable to know that their babies are within reach and they continue to perform, sometimes even outshine their male counterparts.
What if we created an environment where mothers feel safe, where mothers are well taken care of? What if we created an environment where women can embrace womanhood and still thrive at the workplace?
Covid-19 had so many lessons but we forgot them at a speed of lightning. A couple of businesses blossomed amid working remotely, digitisation, flexi hours, adjusted schedules, multi-skilling etc. A number of colleagues I have interacted with, were able to explore new horizons, due to the flexibility. One in particular, a mother of four, confided that for the first time, her supervisor demanded for results, instead of the physical presence and their working relationship is now better, but to add more icing on the cake, the children are also happier.
I do appreciate some jobs that require physical presence and yes women need to show up 100 percent, but please make it a point to make the environment conducive.
One fact is going to remain, every single workplace shall continue to have mothers unless they are gender-insensitive, and in no way shall these women ever become men.
To our dear male colleagues, man-up as well, you don’t become less of a man when you change a diaper or fix a quick meal for the kids.
To the employers and 21st Century workplaces, this is a win-win. A happy, less stressed workforce, means better performance for your organisation.
Start the conversation now! Change that woman’s story.
Matred Murungi is a communications enthusiast