Musings : Maternity, Career & Employer Apathy

Nobody said being a woman was easy and it sure isn’t as well. At times, I feel extremely terrified by the matters that life, or rather living a life entails. Maybe that’s because our lives are more or less like obstacle courses, and challenging ones at that. So, whether a woman or a man, there are battles each of us need to fight, that each of us need to win. Therefore, I think I stand corrected on my first statement because life really isn't known to cherry pick troubles based on gender. Having said that, I do know the struggles women face. And let me tell you, it is very far from being a cakewalk.

Well, however turbulent or difficult this voyage seems, a talk with a friend always helps. Doesn’t it? In fact, sometimes solutions to some of the world’s most twisted problems come up during lighthearted discussions with friends. In fact, sometimes it also takes us on a path of introspection, both self and of the world outside. The latter happened yesterday.

While talking to a very close friend of mine, the topic of maternity leaves came up. She had actually taken a break after the birth of her son. Now after over 2 years going back to work is turning up to be quite a challenge. Why you ask? Well, prospective employers are really not known to be too kind on women who take a career break willingly, even for a reason such as childcare.

For many of you it might not seem like an issue worth pondering upon. But for women, more specifically women planning to have children it is actually a very, very pertinent issue. It think it’s unfair to sidestep a woman and not offer her opportunities when she decides to come back after a break due to motherhood. In fact, to anyone else as well for that matter.

What should matter is whether the person appears to be competent based in interviews. Don’t you think so? But the employers, at least in India, are not too kind when it comes to that. In fact, why only that? This aspect of going back to work comes later actually. Our companies are not even willing to have policies which help mothers-to-be. The base itself is wrong here.

Whether it is the lack of proper labor laws or just implementation or even something else, I don’t know. But what I do know is that the workforce needs to be sensitized on these topics, and pronto. 

Just a few weeks back when a colleague of mine requested for extended ML because she couldn’t leave her 3 month old alone at home, do you know what she was told? Well, her manager asked her to keep the baby with her parents or in-laws or even the maid. I don’t think it was his place or right to suggest such things. 

There have been instances when women have been called back to work before the stipulated 84 days of maternity leaves were even over. Yes, at times with veiled threats too. Some were told the company would process their separation papers if they didn't join back immediately. It’s not fair and it’s not right. But I don’t understand why this issue is not taken up more seriously.

Well, I haven’t found any answers and frankly it just makes me nauseous, this apathy. All I want to do is shove something up the, you know what, of these employers, HRs and managers. I know I seem to immediately jump to offence but can't help it. My blood boils at seeing how women are treated. How even a night month pregnant woman is asked to move from one department to the next for her leaves. It's disgusting really, doesn't speak highly at all of us as human beings.

Well, maybe you have some insights or some answers? If you do, I’d love to hear those.

And to every woman out there, you do know how strong you are, don't you? As strong as isolated rock formations surrounded only by the sea for miles on end. So, hang in there and keep fighting. You are not alone sister!

Until next time.

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