Friday, September 16, 2011

To Work or Not to Work? One Cannot Ask that Question

In the context of the present economic situation of the country where even those in the middle class feel the pinch of uncertainty in finance and economic status, women cannot afford to ask themselves if they should work or not work. But then again, this fact may stem from a lack of consensus or universal appreciation of housework/homework performed by women. To work or not to work: there is no such option available for women.

Bai Pagodna (not her real name), a married woman, suffered from depression and was forced to give up a high paying job just so that she could have a stress-free life with peace of mind. After she recovered from her depression and became hormonally-balanced, she became pregnant with their second child. Having delivered by c-section, Bai and her husband had to pay an enormous hospital bill using money they had saved for several years. This payment left them asking a question: how do we recoup the savings spent? if another emergency happens in our family, how will we be able to meet it financially?

For Bai, the simple joy of having survived her hospital ordeal and the little bundle of joy in her arms were enough to disregard the questions above. The husband, however, was of a different disposition. He continued to ask: what if another emergency occurred? how would they meet it financially?

The decision for Bai to stop working was a decision that the couple made after due consideration of the effect of Bai's work on her mental health. The couple agreed that Bai was in no mental disposition to handle any form of stress brought about by working in an office and that for Bai to work meant that Bai would expose herself to a possibility of having depression again.

Bai didn't want to work in an office setting again. She was already happy doing what she was doing: being a housewife and a mother to her two children. She enjoyed taking care of the house and of everything that her children and husband needed.

it is quite unfortunate that Bai's husband was of a different position. Thus, despite previous agreements on the matter, the husband made Bai feel that she SHOULD work (and by "work" he meant working in an office setting for an employer who was willing to give her a monthly salary --- obviously, "work" did not carry with it the task of caring for the family members and the home). To boost his position, the husband, being a very good economist, started to argue about the uncertainty of the future. He started to enumerate future expenses that they would have to save up for, like the children's tuition fees for their chosen courses, the need to set up an emergency fund in case such an eventuality did occur, etc.

From all of the husband's arguments, Bai realized that, for practical and economic reasons, she has to work again (whether she wants to or not).

Bai is not the only woman with a similar concern. Unfortunately, housework/homework has no value in a poor country such as ours. Surely, if there was value placed on housework/homework, Bai and her husband would not have even bothered to consider the issue of whether Bai had to work or not (because she was already working in the first place, albeit in the home and in favor solely of her family). If value were placed on Bai's contribution in the home, one would already say that she was already working (and on a full time basis at that).

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