For the last few days, a lot of our friends are moving out of Singapore looking for greener pastures in other countries. Singapore is a great place for women and kids but yes there could be limitations in terms of job opportunities. So, more ambitious people, looking for explosive growth, generally tend to move to bigger countries/back to their country.
During such conversations, I realised that there are many developed countries that don’t have a system for working women. Countries like Japan, Australia, US, Canada, UK etc. don’t have enough support for them. In all of these countries, it is tough for women to continue working once they become mothers. There is a system of childcare but it is not enough. There are many issues with childcare – 1) Not enough seats 2) Backup plan if kids are sick 3) Super expensive etc. In a market like Australia, where taxes are about 30% -40%, where do you have money to pay for childcare, rent and food?
Let’s consider a day in working mother’s life. So, she gets up at 5am. Get the kid ready for school and get herself ready for work, drop kid to school at 7:30am. Works for the whole day in office, picks up the child at 6:30pm and then bring him home to give him dinner, play with him with any balance energy (left after day’s work and household chores) and then only after putting him to bed, she can finish up her dinner, other household chores, prepare for next day and then spend some time with the husband. Even if the husband can or willing to help, we all know that “his help” is better than “no help” most of the times. So, if a woman has to lead this life every day, she got to be a super-woman with special powers. And I am excluding those days when kids are sick, cranky and just want to be with mum and not go to school. It’s tough!!
I really thank Singapore for creating a system where a working mother of a young child can afford to have a helper. A helper who can stay with the employer in the same house.Singapore govt. exempts certain amount from working mother’s salary for taxes (if the mother has a help at home). She can look after the baby or at least there for the baby and other household chores when mum is at work. It really helps a lot. It is a different story that people starts expecting way more from a helper who may be working like a daily wage worker in their own country. They are trained to be a good domestic help but cmon she can’t replace you. I had written a separate article on Maids.
Recently I was trying to connect with my friends in AU, NZ, US, CANADA and few other markets to check how are they managing their little ones. And to my surprise, none of the women (among friends we know) are working. So, a girl who has passed out an engg. Worked as a software eng in a reputed company decided to quit the job after being a mother because she didn’t have a viable option. That means, many women like my friend would be quitting jobs after 8-9 years of work experience because they chose to be mothers.
I don’t have a clear statistics on how many drop out of workforce every year because of becoming a mother but this clearly is a major reason of why we don’t see many successful women in good positions in companies? Now companies are trying to develop training programmes (TATA is considered to be a pioneer) to push their female employees for higher positions but again I am very sure, most of those women benefitted out of this, would be Single. And the ones who have focussed on career all their life. They don’t have any family ties or kids to look after. This kind of programmes doesn’t solve the problem. If a company truly wants to retain their women employees then they must have in-house facilities of childcare or facilities like flexi-work hours etc. Companies shouldn’t undermine the fact that generally women like to stick around with the company more than men. (Again no proven stats but it’s purely from observation). That ways, they can save millions of dollars from the recruitment process.
Women employees are hard working, loyal, honest and resilient.