REALity April 2018

What do Women Really Want?

After the World Congress of Families, held in Madrid, Spain, in 2012, an international organization of women was formed, called “Women of the World” (WOW).

The organization consists of 40 worldwide partners, located in 23 different countries. REAL Women of Canada is a partner in WOW. These partners believe that balance must be restored in today’s world regarding women’s role in society.  Women now have equality with men in education and in the workplace, but women are more than mere workers in the paid workforce. Most are also mothers, who are the heart and nurturing force of the family and society. This role contributes magnificently to society, but is frequently ignored.

The social significance of maternity, motherhood, and the role of parents in the family and in the upbringing of children must be acknowledged.

Mothers provide the empathy, tenderness, and resilience that a thriving society demands. By giving life and nurturing their children, mothers, in cooperation with fathers, become the strength and the sustaining force of humanity. Mothers and fathers each play vital roles in all societies.

Some countries, because of cultural and economic factors, provide opportunities for women to remain at home as full-time mothers. For example:

Among mothers with children under three, the proportion of homemakers varies from 92.5 percent in the Czech Republic, to 7.7 percent in Sweden. Eastern European countries tend to have more homemakers — in Slovakia, Lithuania, Estonia and Hungary the proportion is above 70 percent — but it is also relatively high in Germany (73.5%), Austria (66%) and Switzerland (58%), as well as in Finland (61%) and Iceland (66%).

In many Western countries, such as Canada, it is assumed that the majority of mothers of even the youngest children will be employed. Governments subsidize maternity leave and childcare, and promote tax policies designed to encourage mothers to quickly return to paid employment after childbirth, as evidenced in Trudeau’s 2018 budget which was directed to increasing women in the paid workforce.

What Do Women Really Want?

A study published by Czech sociologist Dana Hamplova answers whether women are happy to return quickly after childbirth to paid employment. The study tips the maternal happiness scales significantly towards homemakers, as compared with those in the paid workforce.

All 12 different measures of happiness/satisfaction point in the same direction: according to Dr. Hamplova, mothers with younger children tend to be happier if they are not engaged in paid employment.

British researcher, Catherine Hakim, using data from a major research project, Listening to Women, commissioned by the British Cabinet Office’s Women’s Unit in the late 1990s, came up with a classification of women’s preferences (pdf) with regard to market and family work. She found that roughly 20 percent of women were home-centred and preferred not to be employed; another 20 percent (including most childless women) were work-centred; and the 60 percent in between were adaptive – women who wanted to work but were not totally committed to a work career. Women in the last group were prepared to take any job that fitted in with their family and childcare commitments.

WOW wants mothers and their work to be visible and valued in politics, institutions and the media.  In order to achieve recognition, WOW prepared a Declaration of Mothers which was presented at the March, 2018 UN Commission on the Status of Women in New York City.  It will also be publicized worldwide through its partner network.  The Declaration states as follows:

  1. Mothers are the heart and nurturing force of the family and society. Mothers provide the empathy, tenderness, and resilience that a thriving society demands. By giving life, and nurturing their children, mothers, in cooperation with fathers, become the strength and the sustaining force of humanity. Mothers and fathers each play vital roles in all societies.
  1. Society needs stable families in order to produce secure and happy children. Children who are raised by dedicated mothers in a stable familial environment benefit all of society.
  1. Motherhood is one of the most important, rewarding, and exciting occupations a woman can engage in, yet motherhood is vastly underestimated, belittled, and even disregarded in today’s world. Society often discriminates against motherhood by ignoring and rejecting its intrinsic value and irreplaceable influence in creating and sustaining prosperous societies.
  1. Women in the labour market often experience discrimination for choosing motherhood. Mothers deserve equal opportunity, consideration, and respect in employment.
  1. Motherhood greatly benefits women. Along with a chance to experience multiple leadership, communication, and life skills, it affords an essential feeling of completeness that women need. A woman’s identity is enhanced when she becomes a mother. 

It is a complex world in which we live.  However, one thing never changes: the value that mothers bring to society.