We as women want it all and why shouldn’t we? We have been empowered and with all the right tools at hand and brain, our main goals are focused on “what can I do to make a difference to my world, my society, my people, and my country?”
As a recently married woman (7 months now), my husband and I had a million things to discuss, from finances, work-life balance, children and so on. For us, entering our 30s and choosing to get married meant the next logical step is to have children. Wanting to have kids is something, but to get to the emotional and physical state where you are sure bringing children to the world is something that you need to consider carefully as well as believe that your Maker will give you that opportunity. Not only as a woman you need to be prepared but you must ensure that your partner and yourself have the same goals and are willing to take on the responsibility and share it because raising a child takes two or in our case and entire village or family.
In the UAE, we are blessed to have a small Emirati population that the Government can help support when it comes to education, medical care and housing in addition to family support. What is even more helpful is the fact our families are within close proximity so the dependence on nannies and maids is optional (even though a lot of people use them as a substitute). I can never imagine what it is like for an expat to have to live so far away from their families, raising children, working and providing for their families.
My husband and I live within 10 minutes away from our parents so anything we need is easy to obtain which brings me to the subject of the maternity leave and policies in the UAE. Shaima Al Tamimi, a writer in Sail eMagazine covered the topic last year http://sailemagazine.com/?p=1080 and the subject has been raised so many times on numerous occasions by countless of women.
A few weeks ago, I was lucky enough to be in a workshop with many esteemed women in the community and one of the main issues that was again raised was maternity leave. My question to the UAE and the region is, for a nation that places so much emphasis on family, values and culture and raising children and increasing the population by bringing children into the world whilst at the same time places importance on women working and women empowerment; do we have the worst maternity leave than our “Western” counterparts?
We have competed with the West in fashion, shopping, infrastructure, financial institutions, etc. but our social problems seem to increase by the day starting with the main question for couples on … “should we have a child?” “Can I leave my job? (For a woman)” and most importantly “how do I leave my child after 45 days?” Let me back track, 45 days is the maximum amount of time that private companies give to their women to take off after having delivered their babies. It differs for Government entities and semi-Government ones and companies that are owned by British, French, Canadian, whatever other nationality have even longer maternity leaves.
According to rumors, the subject of maternity leave in the UAE has been raised and tabled for over 4 years. 4 years? Tabled? If the issue is your women are SO indispensable that you can only let them go for 2 months or less, then provide them with an option where they don’t feel a disconnect from their child once they are back. I have heard a couple of senior managers say “if a department can survive without an employee for 45 days, then it can survive without them for good.” So basically, you are saying, I am an asset until I decide to bring a child into the world and then I’m like a used tissue?
Fine. Let’s move on because entering this subject which has already been raised on a social, political and religious context across the country and nothing has or could have been done on it till date, obviously means the solution isn’t within the horizon.
I tried to think of options. If you (the Government or whatever body is responsible) are unable to increase the maternity leave or amend it or compete with countries that you compete with on a business, financial and infrastructure basis, why not create a new law that at least allows mothers to be closer to their children by facilitating nurseries or day care centers until the child is ready for kindergarten.
I started asking around and I found out that the RTA and the Ports in Dubai have day care centers. I don’t actually know people who work there but I was amazed that the RTA, an authority that has been around for less than a decade has progressed in providing a safe and healthy environment for the children of their employees. Who wouldn’t want to work there? Working doesn’t only fulfill monetary or career benefits, but appreciating you as a person is vital in getting the most out of your employees.
When I researched this even further, I found out a lot of companies are not willing to pay the cost of having a day care center because there is no benefit to them as an organization seeing their end goal is to be commercial. So most working women who earn a 2nd income for their homes to help support their husbands or actually are single moms are forced to leave their new born, missing their first words, and quality time so that their children can bond with nannies.
If we can pay for a nanny, we can pay for a service where there is a day care to ensure the safety and proximity of our children well within our reach. No amount of money can compensate for the quality time you have with your child.
For most women, family will always take priority. Problem is, most employers see that as a weakness when they forget themselves, they were brought into this world and raised by women.
The full article is blogged by Aida AlBusaidy on : http://aidaalb.posterous.com/
Sources & Relevant reading sites:
- On UAE’s labour law (maternity leave) http://www.angelfire.com/nv/sabu/UAE%20Labour%20Law.html
- Sharjah increasing the maternity leave and amending paternity leave http://www.kippreport.com/2011/01/amending-uae-maternity-laws/
Aida has more than a decade experience in the communications, and mastering ceremonies field, she worked in private and public sectors, and now heads the Stakeholder Communications in Department of Tourism & Commerce Marketing in Dubai. Aida was a columnist in few of the local newspapers, a TV co-host of a community talk show, and cofounded with friends a community platform: “Promise Of A Generation”.
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