Men should get pregnant and carry babies for 4.5 months! Why should women do all the work of carrying babies for 9 whole months? This was little me at 9 years asking my mother these questions challenging gender norms.
I wanted to know why only women have babies?
Why not Men too?
Or better still Why not share the “work”?
Of course, my mother laughed it off & said “That’s just the way it is. Women have babies”.
My next question – But, why is it that women have babies, look after them, cook, take care of the house & work outside too?
Can’t men cook & look after babies or the house?
40 + years later, the questions remain the same.
Challenging Gender Norms
- 20 million women have dropped out of the workforce in the last 5 years alone.
- Studies show that women spend 4 hours and 25 minutes a day doing unpaid care work as opposed to men who only spend 1 hour and 23 minutes.
- A total of 184 countries provide an average leave of 98 days for new moms, while paternity leave is provided in 105 economies for a median of only 5 days.
- 69% of female employees claim society pressures them to put their careers aside for the sake of their family making it impossible to maintain a work-life balance.
- The research findings, published by the Universities of Bristol and Essex for the Government Equalities Office (GEO), found that just 28 per cent of women were in full-time or self-employed work three years after childbirth, compared to 90 per cent of new fathers.
- A quarter (26 per cent) of men had been promoted or moved to a better job in the first five years following parenthood, that figure dropped to 13 per cent for women.
What is the solution?
No, I am not advocating remaining single or not choosing to be a mother. That is an individual choice that each of us makes. But, there are some solutions which have worked for me & 100’s other women which I am sharing here.
- Planning your pregnancy
- Discussing the timelines & financials with your partner before taking the plunge
- Keeping a “child care fund” aside to meet expenses on paid help
- Articulating & agreeing upon the role of your partner & family members (Parents/in-laws, siblings)
- Communicating to all stakeholders that your career is not an option, but an integral part of your Life
- Becoming so good at what you do that your retention & advancement at work become non negotiable
- Prioritising your career & making intelligent choices so that your earnings contribute significantly to the family
- Dealing with the SIP syndrome (superwoman/imposter/primary caregiver) by being more compassionate & accepting of yourself.
- Sharing childcare & housework with your partner.
- Draw on your “buddy” network of new & experienced Moms for support & guidance in navigating this phase
- Negotiating flexible work timings or WFH with your organisation
- Prioritising your health & fitness so that you have the energy to work till it is possible pre-pregnancy
- Overcoming “Mom guilt” & societal expectations by believing in your choices & Abilities
What can be done?
We Can’t Do it ALL…..
And, we certainly can’t do it alone.
But what we can do is –
Work on ourselves & our limiting beliefs
Work on leveraging our eco-system for support
Believe in our “deservability” & negotiate for the value we deserve
Own & Claim our Power
Find an equal place under the Sun.
Do you believe You deserve it ALL?
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