Sunday, May 8, 2011

Mother's Day, But Where Are the Mothers?

Happy Mother's Day!

Because I always have to go against the norm of posting happy thoughts about various holidays, here's an article that appeared in today's Taipei Times:

More Mothers Unhappy Than Not

This underscores a lot of what I said in my previous post on the issue - not only women and couples feeling it's just too expensive to try and raise kids in today's Taiwan (or world, because really the USA is no better), but also that women still have to deal with sexism and discrimination against women of childbearing age in the workplace - at least if they work for a smaller or local company - and that by and large they are also still expected to take care of more affairs at home, and to top it all off, childcare while they are working is prohibitively expensive for many.

...and that a few thousand kuai isn't going to fix this problem. It's sad to think that more mothers are unhappy than not, and that a vast majority of women in Taiwan don't want to have children (and I say this as someone who doesn't want to have children, so I do understand - but I don't want children for personal reasons, not economic ones).

And the way to fix it is to:

1.) Enact programs to combat discrimination against women of childbearing age and mothers in the workplace;

2.) Provide affordable childcare options for families;

3.) Enact campaigns to raise cultural awareness in terms of encouraging more equal partnerships among mothers and fathers in childrearing (and I do believe that a more involved father who takes an equal partnership in his family life, including cutting back work hours if necessary, will lead to fewer instances of extramarital affairs in this demographic);

4.) Take steps toward encouraging fairer wages (I do feel most Taiwanese white collar workers are underpaid for the time they devote to their jobs) and more reasonable housing prices so that young families can afford to live in the space they need to raise children;

5.) Enact campaigns to limit and lower excessive working hours and a work culture that values time spent at a desk over true productivity, and companies that pile excessive workloads on their employees because they can.

You want to raise the birthrate? That is how you do it.

Not that I think the birthrate needs to be raised - if anything Taiwan needs fewer people, not more.


Boyd R. Jones said...

Points well taken. However, doing so might cause Taiwanese firms to engage in capital flight to other parts of the world if doing so raises costs... Zen ma ban?

Jenna said...

That's already happening - I don't think making the workplace more friendly for women and mothers is going to exacerbate it (and if it does, it'll be miniscule).

Either way, I think that making the workplace more equal for men and women is more important than keeping costs down - that boat sailed when firms moved their manufacturing to China and SE Asia.

I simply refuse to accept that money comes before women's rights. That's not fair, not right and simply not acceptable.

I also believe that while it may raise costs in the short term, having a fuller, happier and more productive workforce will lead to greater productivity and therefore lower costs down the road.

And as it is now, most Taiwanese work too hard. I can't accept that they should continue to destroy their health and personal lives by continuing to do so. That goes for men and women.

So...zen me ban? Fix it anyway. Let the chips fall where they may.