Whether you are listening to the issues brought up during election debates or simply having a casual conversation with friends, one thing is clear. We are all looking for more balance amongst our busy work and personal lives. This is particularly true for working mothers.
The question of having a balanced, successful life has evolved over the decades into a question of priorities. Not just the priorities of any one individual woman, but the priorities of society as a whole. How does a society in which families are considered the backbone of the country and that women’s contributions to the economy are invaluable create a world where women can comfortably meet the demands of both spheres?
Some of the many considerations one must take into account include childcare and the costs of it, quality education, family leave, and flexibility in work culture. The countries that see the least amount of flexibility in their corporate cultures tend to see the least amount of participation of women in the workforce. Forced to decide between motherhood and their careers, many women choose to leave the workforce after childbirth and do not return for a number of years, if ever. A prime example of this is in Japan, where birthrates have fallen off and women are postponing marriage in order to pursue careers that they simply will not be able to maintain if they choose to start a family.
This does not have to be the fate of all societies, however. The increased usage of flex time and a results-only work environment philosophy has made creating a lifestyle that accommodates both work and family a reality for more women. After all, many, if not most of one’s professional responsibilities can be accomplished from anywhere in the world thanks to modern technology. Allowing an employee to work whenever and wherever suits them best is beneficial for the company as well. This flexibility becomes even more vital when employees are also caregivers, as nearly 50% of employees will be at least once in their careers.
There are three elements to the ability to create a work-life balance for women in the workforce, which are access to adequate and affordable childcare, paid family leave, and flexibility in work schedules. By putting greater focus on these three policy changes, we will be able to create a world in which women do not have to sacrifice their personal or professional lives for one another.