Navigating Motherhood and Career
Balancing work and family life is a challenge faced by women globally. Devoting the needed time to both career and family is demanding. Nevertheless, women can overcome challenges by seeking support, setting boundaries, and prioritizing their well-being.
Becoming a mother has been a remarkable catalyst for change in women’s lives, leading some to return to work and others to leave their careers and reinvent themselves as stay-at-home mothers. When choosing whether to be a working mom or not, confusion, feelings of guilt, and low self-esteem might arise.
Despite the choice being personal, motherhood can often lead women to leave their jobs. Working mothers face several obstacles, such as discrimination in the workplace, unrealistic societal expectations, lack of affordable childcare, rigid work arrangements, and inadequate parental leave policies. These challenges can impact the health, well-being, and financial stability of working mothers and their families.
The idea of having it all and striking a perfect work-life balance is a myth. However, favourable policies, equal childcare distribution, and societal support are crucial in helping women achieve a healthy balance. Regulating maternity cover, childcare, and flexible work arrangements is critical for working mothers, yet few countries offer the needed support.
According to a recent report by UNICEF, affordable, quality childcare is inaccessible in many of the world’s wealthiest countries. Luxembourg, Iceland, Sweden, Norway, and Germany rank the highest on childcare provisions among high-income countries. Slovakia, the United States, Cyprus, Switzerland, and Australia rank the lowest.
Working Mothers in Cyprus
Cyprus has a well-functioning labour market compared to most other EU countries, with over half of women employed. However, patriarchal perceptions prevail in Cypriot society. A study on working mothers in Cyprus found that the traditional expectation that women should be the primary caregiver is a major barrier to women’s career advancement.
Working mothers in Cyprus face challenges balancing their careers and family responsibilities, including limited childcare options, and flexible work arrangements. The lack of affordable childcare options in Cyprus is a significant issue, forcing parents to rely on family and friends for childcare. Access to flexible work arrangements is also lower in Cyprus compared to the EU, causing working mothers to choose between their careers and family responsibilities, often resulting in feelings of guilt.
To support working mothers in Cyprus, the government has introduced initiatives, including extended parental leave and subsidies for childcare expenses. By the end of 2024, the government is also planning to create at least ten multipurpose centres to address the shortage of affordable childcare options, particularly for children between zero and four years old.
Supportive policies for working mothers have numerous benefits, including strengthening the bond between parents and their children, promoting healthy child development, reducing maternal depression, and advancing gender equality. Governments can also boost their economies by implementing favourable regulations for women.
Eventually, managing careers and motherhood is hard to achieve worldwide. However, with support from the government, work environment, and partners, women can achieve a healthy work-life balance while prioritizing their mental health and well-being. Favourable government policies, a supportive work environment, and a helpful partner who shares childcare responsibilities can alleviate the pressures faced by working mothers leading to a happier and more balanced life.