CAN WOMEN HAVE IT ALL?
Poon Li-Wei speaks to two experts to discover the pressures working mothers face today and how it affects their wellbeing.
Experts and working mums reveal their thoughts and strategies.
IS THERE AN INCREASING PRESSURE FOR WOMEN TO ‘HAVE IT ALL’?
J: Yes. The pre-existing gender expectation and increasing demands on a woman’s role has become the measurement for all women. This is because the world has created an expectation where women are superwomen, in that they have to perform every single role perfectly – whether it’s being a daughter, sister, wife, mother, employee, or friend.
P: It’s subjective to the woman in question. Some women opt to not marry, some do; some choose not to have children, and vice versa. However, when women choose to have all of the above, it can be overwhelming for some.
DO THESE PRESSURES HAVE NEGATIVE EFFECTS?
J: Women who feel they did not meet these expectations often become overwhelmed and stressed – this can affect them physically and psychologically. For the former, it can indirectly cause serious health illnesses such as heart disease, cancer and gastrointestinal problems. Meanwhile, the latter may be a contributing factor to the National Health & Morbidity Survey 2015 report that 30.8 per cent of adult women experience mental health problems in Malaysia.
P: The perception of failure – at not being able to meet one or two expectations as often as one would like – can create negative effects when it comes to how they view themselves.
Empowerment comes from within. It’s important to realise that it is alright to not have it all. It’s alright to reach out and ask for help when needed. Women must challenge and change their mindset, so they can challenge the unrealistic expectations and pressures put on them. –SAW JOANNE
You are not in a competition with anyone. There is no such thing as ‘perfect’. Searching for that perfect lifestyle, children, family, and image can set us up for failure and further pressure. – PUVESHINI RAO