By: Carla Issa.
Women work so hard to have it all, but can we really have it all? With many economies making only a minor recovery after the global depression, industrialized countries like The United States and Japan cannot afford to force working women to stay home due to lack of childcare options. Some recent trends highlight how it is becoming increasingly difficult for women to return to work. Last week, The New York Times reported a day care crisis in Japan. As mothers want to return to work after having a baby they are often running into wait lists for day care facilities hundreds of names long. A new mother cites that she is discouraged from returning to work but she has no other option because the second income is necessary. The process to find day care often begins while a woman is only a few weeks pregnant. In one instance a desperate mother was trudging around to day care centers up until the last minute—she cancelled her last visit because she started getting contractions. The issue is not the cost of daycare, as the Japanese government subsidizes it, but instead there only being a limited number of spots for children whose mothers want to return to work.
In the United States childcare options are plentiful, but expensive and therefore unattainable for some families. Mothers often have to weigh whether their salary is worth the cost of childcare. The conversation about mothers in the work place has become emboldened through Yahoo’s recent policy change on working remotely. Yahoo’s CEO, Marissa Meyer, has revoked their work-from-home policy stating that not enough creative energy was being harnessed in the workplace, and as a result Yahoo is lagging behind other IT giants. Mothers have taken to social media sites lambasting Meyer for having her son’s nursery built next to her office, since most moms do not have the luxury of replicating that. The larger conversation is how can companies remain viable and efficient while still respecting a woman’s many roles?
There is no single response, but what is apparent is that a conversation has to be had globally. There is no country that this issue does not touch. Another example is Saudi Arabia, there is a youth population waiting to explode, but strict religious practices prohibit women from driving and therefore working thus cutting their available workforce in half. If countries do not individually devise creative and sustainable ways to allow families to procreate and also have a two-parent working household, economies will remain stagnate, or reliant on a single finite resource as is Saudi Arabia’s case. There certainly is no cookie cutter solution for each country, but it is imperative that each look at reasonable options so they can fully utilize their citizenry for the benefit of the aggregate and also the individual. Decades of women’s movements have bridged the gap in pay, recognition, and opportunities for women in the workplace. The pervading issue of childcare options should not setback those achievements.