Not family-friendly at all
By Ramon Casha
I’m growing concerned about a number of statements made from time to time which seem to suggest that unless a woman is gainfully employed, she is inferior to other women.
The latest of these is a report by the Malta Employers’ Association to a parliamentary committee on the family, carried on Malta Today, about what was described as family-friendly measures. The emphasis, according to the report, is to “attract females to the workforce” and to encourage “presence at the workplace” as opposed to working from home.
Is it just me, or is this emphasis on keeping women working at the office not “family-friendly”? All the emphasis seems to be on ensuring that all women are working at a job (in this article, by “job” I mean employment with wages). The Malta Employers’ Association president Joseph Farrugia even speaks in demeaning terms of those women who “devote their lives to being housewives”. When did “housewife” gain these negative connotations?
This is not a family-friendly attitude or even a woman-friendly attitude. It’s a business-friendly attitude. A woman-friendly attitude would be one which respects the woman who makes a conscious choice to place her career on hold while she cares for her children. A family-friendly measure is one which does not try to discourage women from working from home if this is more convenient for them while trying to care for infants.
Another idea kicked around is “extended school hours”. Is this a family-friendly measure when its objective is to turn the school into a day care centre so that the parents “remain at work for longer hours”? By all means let’s introduce family friendly measures, make it easier for women to continue working while caring for children. For that matter let’s make it easier for men to do the same too.
However let’s not look down upon those women (or men) who make the choice to place their family and their children before their job.
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