• Saturday, June 22, 2024
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Working mothers struggle with outsourcing childcare

Career mothers struggle with babies’ preschool, work

Fresh concerns have emerged as an increasing number of working mothers in Nigeria are struggling with outsourcing childcare.

A Twitter user, with the handle @Lolo_cy, had on Sunday narrated how a friend took a three-month-old healthy boy to a crèche but returned to find he was dead.

What followed was a barrage of comments questioning the rationale behind leaving such a tender child in the hands of care minders and why the mother failed to stay at home to raise the child.

Some commenters also queried why women increasingly seem to prioritise career over child support and family care, suggesting that women should forfeit working in their child-bearing years.

“A three-month-old should have nothing to do at the creche. In fact, a nine-month-old baby has no business in the crèche. Where are your support systems? Your family members? I don’t get it,” a Twitter user, @Drwhales_, tweeted.

A counter-argument also trailed the criticism as more women opened up on the burden that women face in their struggle to juggle paid employment with child raising and family care.

Many women argued that they have to work to support the family income, gain financial independence and ease potential suffering in an economy with one of the world’s highest inflation rates.

With a labour law that only allows 12 weeks of maternity leave and at least 50 percent pay, many working women are forced to return to their jobs three months after childbirth, unlike 39 weeks after in the UK, 43 weeks in Greece or 58 weeks in Bulgaria.

And since the options of professional childcare provision are often unavailable at workplaces, some women contract their children’s care to crèches which sometimes fail.

Some women are calling for a societal review of the bias and stereotypes of gender roles and asking that child-raising should get the joint effort of both parents and the support of other family members where possible.

Atinuke, via the handle @ThatGirlTinuke, said: “If some women had their way, they won’t keep their baby at the crèche. But the reality in the labour force doesn’t give them many options – resume or lose the job. It’s worse when the women involved are single parents, widows or even breadwinners. God comfort that woman.”

Read also: Weaning tips for breast-feeding mothers

Uncle Charle, via the handle @AkwariCharles, said, “They need to start advocating for companies and firms to have a crèche at work where workers can drop off their babies while they work – a subsidised one. At least, during their break time, they can spend it with their baby. Also, in case of emergency, they can be reached faster”.

Shakirat Gold-Olufadi, who tweeted with @skinandall_, urged women to reject the societal pressure to be a superwoman or the notion that women were built to do any and everything, describing it as a set-up for breakdown.

“Don’t let anyone make you feel guilty for getting help in achieving a healthy work-life balance. Don’t let anyone make you feel bad for wanting to be more. Ignore all the talkative on and off social media and do the best you can. For the family that lost their child and yet the woman is the one facing all the fire, I wish I could see you and give you a hug,” Gold-Olufadi said.

A 2014 analysis of gender gaps in labour outcomes by the OECD Development Centre showed that the gender gap in unpaid care work had significant implications for women’s ability to actively take part in the labour market and the quality of employment opportunities available to them.

The study found that outsourcing unpaid care activities, such as child-minding, cooking or cleaning was not an affordable or realistic option for most women as their household’s daily wellbeing depended on them to carry out these activities.

According to the report, the unequal distribution of caring responsibilities between women and men within the household translates into unequal opportunities in terms of time to participate equally in paid activities.

It said, “Gender inequality in unpaid care work is the missing link in the analysis of related to gender gaps in labour outcomes in three areas: gender gaps in labour force participation rates, quality of employment, and wages,” the study said.

“States’ failures to provide regulate and fund domestic and care formal services increase the burden for communities, families and especially women. Finally, recognition of the economic contribution of unpaid care work requires measuring it.”