Women’s Day: Between High Heels and Cooking Pans

Cecilia, Liz, Anneka, Rachel, Vera and I having a get together on International Women’s Day in Barcelona

Dateline: El Born, Barcelona, Spain

 By Chiogor Constance Ikokwu

 On International Women’s Day, it’s apt to ask the question: what do women want? It’s not an easy inquiry to unpack given that desires, wishes, aspirations, and goals are as varied as living creatures.

However, in the modern world, it is generally assumed that what women want are the following; opportunity to attend school; high flying careers thereafter; fat bank accounts; more presence in the workplace; representation in the boardroom; equal pay for equal work; a sparkly lifestyle associated with high fashion, wining and dinning, great vacation destinations, etc.

This image is held up high in the media and yes, some women have conquered the world. On the flip side, there are those that are conspicuously left out in chat rooms. Who are these? Women who have zero interest in the corporate world.

Choice has been criminalised, it seems. A woman who prefers to be a homemaker or stay-at-home mum nowadays is crucified. She is almost browbeaten into changing her path. There must be something wrong with her, the world reckons.

The question is, must we all be high achievers? Are we all meant to thread the same path? Who says that a woman cannot live a meaningful life outside the corridors of the corporate world?

I have heard whispers from university-educated women who want to toe a different path from today’s norms. They don’t mind staying at home if their husband/partner has the financial muscle to support the family. Some look forward to combining the office of mum with pet projects.

The stigma associated with stay-at-home can be frightening. Yet the office of the stay-at-home mum is one of the most important if not the most important in our lives. The time that is required to nurture and groom a child from the age of 1 to 18 is crucial. This phase of life cannot be replaced. It can either make or break an individual. No amount of time spared for this cause should be regretted.

Women will tell you that juggling work and family is demanding, especially in countries with unfriendly laws. There are cases where they’re compelled to return to work within one or two months of giving birth. The reason being that paid maternity leave covers a short period.

In many instances in the developed world, the cost of childcare or daycare is prohibitive. The pressures of trying to balance these two fronts often take its toll. In some countries like in Africa, women have a better deal. Domestic help is affordable and families almost always rally round a nursing mother. This is when you realise that having big extended families is a plus.

Increasingly, women want to have more time for their families. Women that willingly offer to forgo the career and the fulfillment that comes with it should not be made to feel less. Also, self-fulfillment can come in various ways and forms. It doesn’t emanate solely from office work.

It is my submission that the stay-at-home mum position is the most misconstrued jobs of all time. It is indeed a full-time job!!! Such mothers hardly get breaks, vacation, rest and time for themselves. They’re on call 24hours. It is not easy at all and should be accorded the respect that it deserves.

As women continue to fight for equality in the workplace, choice must be encouraged. Do whatever floats your boat!

So sisters, are you ready to dump that career chase? Does staying at home sound good to you or would you rather keep those high heels on? Please leave your thoughts in the comment box.

Happy international women’s day!

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