Can the professional working woman have it all?

Came across this article recently from a English-based newspaper in Thailand. I may sound like I’m well read, it’s only cos I’ve stumbled upon it on The Daily Brunei Resources, my favourite blog for Brunei’s history, current national activity and all round interesting things to know about Brunei.

Quoted from the article:

“The average salary of Brunei’s women rank number three in the world, $38,000. With 58 per cent of women participating in the work force, they rank 20th in the world in that regard. More than 50 per cent of small and medium sized enterprises are run by women.”

It’s true. Women in Brunei do contribute a lot to the workforce. And correct me if I’m wrong but I don’t think there is any gender inequality in terms of payment.

But dig deeper and you realise it’s a little bit harder than we think. Or more like, harder for the working mothers out there. Firstly, the maternity leave has been increased to 103 days. Oh wow. Thanks very much. Leaving a baby at 3 months old, still breastfeeding and still actually quite young, plus mum has now just about finding her feet becoming a mother and into a routine with her child. Now she has to go to work.

Secondly, we need to question whether they have adequate breastfeeding/pumping facilities in the workplace and in public places. If they’re able to go home for lunch, which I think a lot of women have the ability to, they can feed their baby or pump milk then. If not, either due to long distance to home or work pressures or just not being able to leave work just yet for lunch (think of the drs who more often than not have late lunches), they need a place to pump milk. Is there a place private enough for this? If they have a private office, ok lah. If not, so how now brown cow? Sitting on the toilet for next 20-30 minutes whilst pumping and trying to make sure the bottles are still sterilised and clean…. Thanks again!

Thirdly, a venue where it has not been looked into much before. The option of working part time.

I must say – I love being a part timer. I have four days a week off when I can spend time with zayan and have housechores in order (ok sometimes maybe not, HE HE). Then I work the three days and sometimes more depending if I’m oncall or not. This means I’m far less stressed out with work and have more time with Zayan.

I spoke to a fellow dr in Bru, who loves her job, who loves medicine… but she has a family and it can all be difficult and overwhelming to keep on top off. Yes, we can leave our children with amahs or other family members, but 1. the option might not be there and 2. maybe we want to take care of our kids ourselves. At least half the time. So we still get to work but not too stressed out or take up all our time so as to miss our children’s daily living, their milestones.

One friend said she was so busy with work, she didn’t realise her child has started rolling already. You know that first moment when they roll, and then they won’t do it for another few days or week, then they do another roll. And you wait excitedly for the next body movement. Isn’t it sad when you miss your child’s ‘firsts’?

Anyway, I’m sure there will be plenty of people (men) out there who will say – jangantah keraja bah. Your place is in the house anyway. Take care of your husband and kids. Then what is the point of me going to school then? Going to university? Should I not use my knowledge and expertise to good use?

Can’t I have both slices of the cake? Can’t I contribute to society AND take care of my house and children (half the time) at the same time? Do I have to suffer, be burnt out and just be incredibly tired all the time and feel guilty too for seemingly abandoning my child to do this?

I like to think that one day Zayan will look up to me and think – my mum’s cool, she works and does her doctor thing, but she has time for me too.

Lotsa love, me

PS. Article link

“Sultanate of Brunei – Another World” is written by Gerald W Fry, Distinguished International Professor, Department of Organisational Leadership, Policy and Development of the University of Minnesota, USA.

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