Islamabad:In a world where the pursuit of balance is a universal aspiration, the evolving trends see more women assuming pivotal roles in contributing to household finances.
Yet, a stark dilemma persists: a choice between career aspirations and unmet fundamental needs, such as access to onsite daycare facilities. This demand, proclaimed as vital by the Institute of Women’s Policy Research (based in Washington), brings into focus an often overlooked facet of the modern working woman’s journey who navigate the complex maze of responsibilities.
Khawaja Saeed Abbas, a retired BPS-20 officer, reflects on the past, drawing from his extensive career at the Pakistan Tourism Development Corporation spanning over 45 years. "Back in our times, women would take maternity leaves and never return," he muses, attributing this trend to the dearth of resources to facilitate their return. Today, women stand at crossroads, torn between nurturing their hard-earned careers and tending to their infants. The societal pressure to prioritize one over the other compounds this dilemma, painting women as irresponsible mothers when their focus extends beyond their children, given the scarcity of daycare facilities throughout Pakistan. In the words of Sammar Amin, a voice from an Islamabad-based think tank, the shortage of workspaces and the absence of dedicated daycare facilities force many female colleagues to relinquish their stable jobs after starting families.
The need for change is undeniable, as antiquated assumptions that tether women solely to household and childcare responsibilities hold them back. Anum Hassan, a mother of two and senior Human Resource officer at a logistics services, vocalizes the challenges. “It’s not a luxury, but a need,” she asserted, emphasizing the emotional and professional toll when childcare safety is compromised.
The vulnerability of children under thirteen underscores the urgency for daycare provisions. The early years are marked by exploration, demanding a safe environment that is often absent, she remarked. Assad Anjum, a student of the Islamic International University raised by a single father, sharing his journey’s trials said, the absence of daycare in his father’s workplace left him grappling with an unmet need. Similarly, Amna Ilyas, a mother juggling a private firm job, also narrated her experience, unveiling how the absence of daycare facility transformed her joy as a new mother into a torment of conflicting responsibilities. “Within the limits of Beaconhouse Schools System, a silver lining emerged ‘a daycare centre’. With a cooperative staff, I would make two visits during my work hours to check on my children, granting me a much-needed respite,” shared Ayesha Behram, a dedicated Fine Arts teacher at BHSS.
In contrast Ayesha Ahmed, serving as coordinator at a private radio station sans facility, expressed, "My supervisor empathetically permits my one year old baby’s presence, yet the next 8 hours confine him within my cabin’s walls. Hindered from exploring like typical children, frustration ensues, leaving me torn as a mother. "In a fragile economy, recognizing the importance of both genders in stabilizing economic structures becomes pivotal. The Asian Development Bank reports that only 25% of women participate in Pakistan’s labour force as of 2022, a notably lower figure than other developing nations.