Tuesday, February 2, 2016 11:18 am
By Grace Essen
In those days it was a general belief that a woman’s place was in the home. When men went off to work women stayed at home and took care of the children and the household. That is an age we are glad we moved on from, thanks to women who made it possible with their doggedness to make sure the place of a woman is where she chooses to make it.
Over time, women got boxed into roles, profession or trades that were referred to as feminine. Today we see more and more women, not only attempting and but going all out and succeeding in professions that were once exclusively for men. What that says is: What a man can do, a woman can do too, if not better.
But in our quest to give women the opportunity to choose their ‘place’, have we left a certain group of women behind?
I doubt if there is a more undervalued or underappreciated group of woman today, than this group that was once the cornerstone of our communities, whose hands wove the very fabrics that hold our society, but easily overlooked by the society – The stay-at-home mothers.
These women are perceivably idle, lazy and not having anything meaningful to do than gossip or just lazy around. But any stay-at-home mum will tell you her reality is quite different. Her day is spent washing, cleaning, cooking and doing many other chores and errands if were to be monetized would earn her some income on a regular basis.
I guess it appears stay-at-home mums ‘do nothing’ because they make ‘the world go round’ in a manner that makes it appears so effortless!
I remember late last year, when the wife of the DMD of The Sun Newspaper, Mr. Steve Nwosu was abducted from their home. After the release of his wife, Steve recounted his experience on his back page column of the Sun Newspaper published on Wednesdays. He said while his wife was away, his house was in a total mess, and his children couldn’t go to school for that period. And then he asked, how can anyone say women just sit at home and do nothing?
It is particularly worse these days for women when it has become a regular occurrence for domestic staff to abduct their employees’ children and later call to demand huge amounts of money as ransom, as we have witnessed in recent times. So, working mothers who haven’t got relatives they can trust to take good care of their children end up quitting their jobs, to avoid such harrowing experience.
It is so easy to forget that most of these women are highly educated, brilliant, talented and creative minds, who let go their careers and/or businesses in order to attend to family needs. These women should be commended and not taken for granted or even considered foolish for their decisions.
We cannot dismiss with a wave of hand what women can bring to the table with respect to contributing to development of the nation. Billie Williamson of Ernst & Young put it this way: “We can’t grow or face the challenges of the marketplace without women’s perspective and contributions – in fact no business can”, neither can any society.
It is particularly worse these days for women when it has become a regular occurrence for domestic staff to abduct their employees’ children and later call to demand huge amounts of money as ransom, as we have witnessed in recent times. So, working mothers who haven’t got relatives they can trust to take good care of their children end up quitting their jobs, to avoid such harrowing experience.It is so easy to forget that most of these women are highly educated, brilliant, talented and creative minds, who let go their careers and/or businesses in order to attend to family needs. These women should be commended and not taken for granted or even considered foolish for their decisions.
Today’s woman wants more options. She wants to be able to much more, even from home. Not every one of us is attracted to bead making or sewing; please don’t get me wrong, there is absolutely nothing wrong with any of these skills or similar ones. But I think women should have a wider range of money making opportunities to choose from, such that they are able to still apply the knowledge, skills and expertise they have acquired from years of schooling and while working.
These women can be encouraged by creating enabling environment and more flexible work opportunities for them to put their knowledge, experience and expertise to work and build profitable businesses and careers from their homes.
Corporate organizations can give working mothers who are forced to quit their jobs but are still willing to work, an option of a more flexible job with renegotiated pay, or the option to work from home on reduced pay, working mainly on tasks which can be done online, until they are able to get back to work fully.
Women who wish to start businesses should have access to loans, and also capacity building training to enable them start and run businesses that have growth potentials, such that can in the long run, expand beyond their homes and create jobs for many.
Every woman has the potential to choose her own ‘place’ and be all that she wants to be, no matter what. With the advancement in technology – internet and social media, stay-at-home mums now have the opportunity to do something for themselves, in addition to taking care of children and the home front.
All we need is the right support, a positive mindset, right attitude, a bit of assertiveness, willpower and unwavering belief in ourselves. We can turn our homes to our ‘place’ of fulfilling dreams and aspirations.
Please share your thoughts with me. Thank you!
You may reach Grace via email: [email protected] You can also follow her on twitter @GraceEssen, on Facebook, and also follow her blog @Mum2MumAfrica.com.