Attention, Moms at Work!

Thursday July 16, 2009,

3 min Read

“The Cutting Edge”

 A weekly look at advocacy, media and entrepreneurship.

I was brought up by a most

egalitarian mom, an army officer’s wife who always worked and somehow managed to do that inspite of having to move cities every few years, every time my father was sent to a new army station. The only catch the viable option that was available to her, a university topper, was teaching, the one profession that is most tolerant of the frequent movements of army wives.

The point of this bit of nostalgia is that today if she were to start her profession, the concept of flexible workers would allow her to build on her talents much better. 

Has the age of flexible professionals, be it mothers or even women taking care of an aged parent or perhaps an ill person, finally arrived?

Sairee Chahal, who set up Fleximoms along with Anita Vasudeva earlier this year under Saita Consulting, certainly thinks so. Chahal says that what motivated her to start this venture was the “Continuous and growing need of women professionals who need flexibility and during the last three years, SAITA Consulting must have heard from at least a thousand of them. The number of experienced, qualified women professionals who need to rethink and rework their careers and their approach is large and growing. This is getting further accentuated by longer commutes, nuclear families, complex lifestyles and the need for a continuous second income.”

Let’s take a look at some of the number, a recent ILO report shows that an astonishing 77.3 percent of women in India have gone through secondary or higher education, yet are unemployed. 

The myriad pressures and demands on Indian women are too well known to recount. What is important is that this is valuable human capital that can be retrieved and used to build economic capital. 

With a slow down in the global economy, which has impacted India as well, enterprises are also looking for ways to cut their costs. Every employee seat can cost between ten and 25 thousand rupees when you count their overheads and costs. A person who therefore is like a bit of a guerrilla worker armed with talent, drive and experience but will not cost so much in terms of overheads is of great value to any organisation.

It must be pointed out that these are not temporary workers but often seasoned professionals who simply are not able to put in full hours. Yet the work is done, the hours may be part time but the deliverables to a company are not.

Indian women are definitely very good at managing many tasks, whereas I am not trying to make sweeping generalisations out of sentiment, it is a pity that so many talented women are unable to make use of their potential. Flexi time is one good way of doing so.

Do check out:    

Next Week: Breaking the glass ceiling, women on top 

- Paarul Chand

Paarul Chand is Founder, Bright Lite Communications a content,film making and media advocacy firm. . She is a media advocacy expert, with a special focus on developmental issues. A writer, she has worked as a television journalist for shows on CNBC India, BBC World,Economic Times Television and Asia Business News-Dow Jones.

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