Working mothers


Pandemic end in sight?

Our column today is a belated Mother’s Day tribute to the women in our lives who gave birth to us, took care of us, and stood by us until we could stand on our own – which, to them, usually takes a lifetime of waiting.

In particular, we honor today's “working mothers.” 

The phrase does not make much sense. After all, all mothers – employed or not – actually work. Motherhood entails a lot of work and demands skills and abilities way beyond what most other managerial or entrepreneurial endeavors require. That mothers are not required under our laws to be compensated for the particular role they play is beside the point.

In our past columns, we have said a lot about women and mothers. A recent study funded and conducted by the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) confirmed much of what we have said in our column in praise of the Filipino woman.

According to the study, The Filipino woman “may be considered one of the most advanced vis-a-vis the women in other countries, in the areas of academic, professional, politics and legislation.”

“The Philippines is the only country in Asia to have closed the gender gap on both education and health and is one of only six countries in the world to have done so,” the JICA study underscored. It added: “The Philippines is the only country in the world where women have parity to men in senior management roles.”

The facts stated in the JICA report explain why women now comprise a major percentage of the national workforce. The number peaked in 2014 at nearly half of the force, at 48.9 percent. The number took a dip in 2020, perhaps due to the pandemic, at 42.52. It has gone up since and was last reported in 2022 by internet-based data organization Statista at 45.96 percent.

We presume that a good number of them are mothers.

While the figures present the growing role of women, particularly mothers, in the national economy, they do not depict the difficult “balancing act” that the situation demands of them.

Now, here are the sad facts.

Over the weekend, Rappler published the results of a survey recently done by the survey software company Milieu Insight. According to the survey, 66 percent of Filipino mothers said they “have a hard time finding time for both work and family commitments.”

According to the article, the situation of Filipino working mothers follows the trend in Southeast Asia. 

“With the exception of Thailand, a majority of respondents in the rest of the countries included in the survey – Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia, Vietnam, and the Philippines expressed difficulty in finding time for both work and family commitments, the findings explained.

Here is the touching part: “The sentiment was highest among Filipino mothers.”

The picture is made even more painful by one other reality. According to the numbers culled by online data source Statista, as of 2022, more than half of the total number of overseas Filipino workers are women. The figure is 57.8 percent, to be exact. Most of them are in the Middle East. 

While the data does not say how many of them are mothers, we presume many, if not most, of them are.

Filipino working mothers are not a recent phenomenon. Since time immemorial, most Filipino mothers balanced income-producing work and service to the community with their duty of creating a home and taking care of their family. In the distant past, they took on part-time work or enterprises. 

 Today, they are part of the workforce that reports for work daily, devotes eight or more hours to their official tasks, and exercises major leadership and executive responsibilities.

It is fair to say that today, life is tougher for the working mother.

Thanks to their willingness to take on the challenge, the world today enjoys the benefits of their brand of leadership even as they continue to shower their homes and communities with their irreplaceable brand of care and affection.

Today, we render a special salute to working mothers.

We conclude this tribute by pointing out that this would include all mothers. After all, motherhood is work, too.

The world just does not have enough to compensate them for the performance of that role.

Thank you, mothers. (E-mail it to [email protected])