Motherhood and Employment Bias

It’s tough juggling motherhood and a job

Every woman can play a vital role in the development of a country by participating in the labour force. In our society gender inequality is considered a major social problem. When it comes to working mothers, the situation becomes worse.

For several decades women have been forced to conventional responsibilities such as taking care of their children, the primary caregiver with the majority of their time spent on domestic activities for a home, child birth and child raising. In societies these roles were previously considered acceptable norms. However, as the struggle for gender equality, freedom of speech and autonomous decision making evolves, over time increasing number of women can be seen in the labour market. Those women who participate in the labour force are capable of freely empowering themselves, financially assisting their families and contributing to poverty alleviation and the larger socioeconomic domain. In contrast, low female labour-force participation might be considered a failure to promote gender equality and women empowerment. The scenario becomes more complex when motherhood and female labour force participation are considered.

Motherhood has physiological as well as sociological aspects which should be recognised in the workplace because mothers are a significant population that contributes to the economy. Women who are parenting a child while actively engaging in the labour field encounter a variety of problems, including workplace gender discrimination, inflexible work schedules, and a lack of childcare assistance. To address the challenges faced by working mothers, greater efforts are required in modern society. As a result, it is necessary to understand the association between motherhood and labour force participation. This knowledge would lead to improved policy, economic growth and decisions about expanding or sustaining female work force participation.

Motherhood responsibilities with work progression can be challenging since it comprises a wide range of responsibilities, such as going to meetings, caregiving, managing children’s assignments, carrying and receiving children from school. A mother’s schedule must be flexible in order to fulfil all of her duties. However, gender role dispute is most likely to occur since the formal sector’s rigid structure hinders a mother’s capacity to execute her motherhood tasks and vice versa, and which can lead to some mothers leaving or considering leaving their jobs. Several studies show that there has been an increasing tendency of mothers leaving the job market during child care years all over the world, particularly in the USA. This finding raises several questions: should this be the case in our current age, when there is continual promotion of female child education, women empowerment, gender equality and women ascending to greater levels of decision-making authority in the official sector? Should women have to choose between motherhood and career? Are women being educated to devote so much time in school, get a good profession and then resign because they need to have and raise children? Work-family experience as well as linked motherhood practices, and variations because of differences in cultural values, institutional policies and family structure, child upbringing varies by country.

It is a worrying situation and the moment has arrived to investigate why female education is so low. Education is important for the development of societies and only educated females understand their basic rights, since education allows women to make decisions about labour force participation.

Women were crucial in shattering the chains that led to the dawn of independence and the creation of Pakistan. Nonetheless, despite being an Islamic republic and democratic nation, Pakistan ranks low in terms of gender equality not only in comparison to other developing countries but also in comparison to South Asian countries where gender gaps are thought to be the greatest. Unfortunately, the condition of women further worsens when this disadvantaged group enters the labour force to gain some status and control. Insufficient education and a high reproductive burden on women have a detrimental impact on labour force participation. As a result, women in our society are obliged to stay at home and give birth and raise their children.

In short, women who are termed ‘domestic finance ministers’ are the most underprivileged group in society in terms of service provision. Even though she is able to work outside the home, the dual nature of her obligations at home, which include household duties as well as mothering, puts her in a far more miserable condition.

Pakistan has a comparatively low labour force participation rate because of the smaller number of women in the labour market. Therefore, this is a critical issue for the development of Pakistan.

Women face social and cultural barriers to mobility and integration in the workplace as well as a stratified labour market, a lack of skills and employer gender preconceptions or stereotypes that gives less value to female labour because of their family obligations and responsibilities.

In Pakistan female labour force participation is very low at 14.4 percent, compared to 70.03 percent for males while female employment rate is 16.5 percent and male employment rate is 6.7 percent. According to the Labour Force Survey, female labour participation was only 14.6 percent in 2004-05. According to the Economic Survey, female labour force participation has increased by eight percent over the last three decades.

However, in comparison to other South Asian nations, the labour force participation remains extremely low. There are various reasons behind Pakistan’s low female workforce participation rate. A few of these reasons include early marriages, severe negative social and cultural constraints on free mobility of women and the lack of an organized labour market. The situation of women in Pakistan differs depending on their geographical area and social class. Women from metropolitan regions and the upper classes are in a better position since they have more chances for further education and pursuing professional jobs. Due to constant motherhood almost 75 percent of the female population that belong to rural areas suffer poor health. As a result of discrimination at legal, social and cultural level all Pakistani women remain structurally underprivileged and inferior.

It is a worrying situation and the moment has arrived to investigate why female education is so low. Education is important for the development of societies and only educated females understand their basic rights, since education allows women to make decisions about labour force participation.

Saiqa Wahab
Saiqa Wahab
The writer is a freelance columnist

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