Keeping women working

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Keeping women working

It is particularly tough - and often downright grueling - being a working mom in Korea, as highlighted in a recent JoongAng Ilbo series on how these women juggle their lives.

Women engaged in economic activities now make up a big chunk of the population, yet child care and other necessities that enable them to stay in the workforce while raising a family have progressed at a snail’s pace.

To most working moms, every day is a war as they struggle to balance the duties of the office with those of the home. It is difficult to retain sanity in such circumstances. Some 23 percent of working mothers confess that they are depressed, according to one study, overshadowing the well-being of their homes and society as a whole.

We should all chip in to lessen the load on their shoulders.

First of all, we need to revamp the household culture that places all the onus of housework and child care primarily on the mothers. Fathers must take on more chores in the house and assume more responsibility in caring for their children. In essence, gender equality should start at home.

The workplace must also become more friendly to families. Parents should be able to use their leave for parenting reasons more easily and freely. Employers should actively encourage parenting leave, which most employees rarely dare to ask for. The workplace also should offer more flexibility in work hours for mothers.

The government is now working to develop the so-called “purple-collar” work system, which centers around the idea of giving more flexibility for women employees to help keep them in the workforce. The corporate world should also join the bandwagon, and the state should enhance and enlarge the child support infrastructure for working parents.

The perennial and common desire among working moms is to be assured that their kids are in safe and responsible hands while they are at work.

Society therefore should provide affordable child care and education facilities so that grandmothers are not the only way to keep women in the workforce.

Indeed, making moms happy is a viable solution to the growing problem surrounding Korea’s low birthrate.
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