Working Mothers, kids and COVID
A large proportion of working women are mothers too. That simply means, along with the workplace tasks, they have the responsibilities of their children also. Now a days more urban families are structured in nuclear fashion, where the largest proportion of women working in formal sectors belong to. These working mothers heavily rely on daycare facilities for their kids during their office hours. In recent times we have seen it more often than ever how big a role these daycare facilities are playing in the lives of working mothers, kids, society and even in national economy. Last few years have gone quite eventful and schools are closed for the sake of security as these events happen. We lived the occasions when smog due to air pollution in Delhi -NCR has become smothering. We also braved the occasions when protesters burnt the schools and public spaces over the CAA NPR issue. And now we are practicing social distancing to avoid transmitting Corona virus due to COVID outbreak. All these events led to school closure that in turn poses huge challenges to the working parents. Kids too young to stay alone at home, needs to be accompanied by a safe and responsible elderly person for care, safety and daily needs. While the daycare are the only alternate option for kids, when schools are closed, the risk linked with air pollution, riots, and infections remains same at daycare as they are at schools.
Pic: Getty Images
What is the solution then? The most “ready to use” solution is one parent should stay back at home for the kids. And it now goes without saying that these are almost always the mothers who are supposed to sit back for many reasons. This leads to sudden departure from work for many women. No family friendly policy, no daycare facility at workplace, no provision of work from home, no flexibility in working hours, no provision of care leaves are the policy level interventions required but does not exist for most of the working women in our country.
Now as we understood that conditions like air pollution, riots, communicable disease or any such unforeseen situations are bound to come now and then, here and there, and are unavoidable, what we want to decide about the whole issue?
Should women just stop working outside and stay at home because safety of kids is also a national priority, and someone must perform that duty too. Or can we have some policy that allows woman also to pursue her aspirations along with managing her role as a parent to build a society that is more accommodative, more nurturing. Can’t we imagine having a world that has space for women, for men, for elderly for kids and for dreams and ambitions of all?
These issues have once again put us thinking that we must strengthen our daycare facilities. If we want to tap the full potential of working mothers, we first need to assure them that their kids are safe and happy while they’re busy cracking a deal in a board meeting. How can we do that? We need to empower our childcare facilities. Starting a childcare center should become a responsible business and should only be allowed after proper licensing and regulations. The law should be strict, the regulation should be tight with the timely audits of the centers. Care providing personnel at these centers should be properly skilled. Kids are the future of the nation. They should be handled with utmost care and caution. While we are raising our kids, we are preparing our nation for the future. Diploma level certificate courses, vocational training courses should be started to generate skilled manpower for caring kids at daycare centers. Training centers can be linked with the daycare facilities for placement purpose. Startups should come up with more sustainable and smarter ideas for building up such daycare facilities. Trust me, this is the need of the hour and one can develop a lucrative business model around it.
Parents if not worried about their kids all the time, will be able to focus more on their work, being more efficient and productive. Mothers will not need to leave their career suddenly and will become the highly talented human resource, the nation needs. Kids will be raised in a safe and reliable environment, along with other same age group kids, only to become good citizen in the coming time. Societies will acknowledge the value of equality and the generations will learn to manage any unforeseen situation with courage and confidence.