WORKING A MAN’S WORLD
By Zanele Kumalo THISYEAR’STHEME FOR INTERNATIONALWOMEN’S DAY, celebrated on 8 March, was ‘Planet 50-50 by 2030: Step It Up for Gender Equality’. While major victories have been won, structural realities still undermine efforts to close the gender gap. I was reminded of this during a recent lunch with my girlfriends: the working mothers lamented the disparity between the time the workday ends and that of the school day.
What happens if you can’t work exitime or afford quality day care or don’t have someone to help out? Now that women have entered the workforce, the impact on working mothers’ careers is immense. I doubt that as many fathers run out during the day to pick up their kids as do their female counterparts. Or experience the same level of con ict. Women are still largely expected to be the caretakers and men the breadwinners.
Rebecca Rosen discusses the imbalance on Theatlantic.com: until work, home and school or day care are brought into alignment, she says, ‘ families will continue to feel stretched thin, dads will continue to experience pressure to be workers rst and fathers second, and, in all likelihood, women will continue to lag behind men in terms of career achievement and compensation. Equality is not possible under these circumstances.’
The argument that mothers should work part-time or become stay-at-home moms if they can afford to is both counterproductive and sexist. A better solution would be tailoring working hours to match the classroom timetable, by extending the school day and shortening the workday. In effect, meeting halfway. Sweden, considered an equality paradise by many, is already trialling the concept. Or what about government offering free public care?