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Roles women play

Thursday, March 08, 2007

WHILE various activities have been organised to mark the International Women's Day today, little attention is given to re-evaluate the role of women in the family.

Increasingly, mothers are required to work to supplement the family income. In many families, they are the sole breadwinners.

Women are also becoming more competitive in the workplace. With this, they are rightly calling for equal opportunities, equal pay and privileges.

No doubt many are ambitious and no longer want to be stereotyped as housewives who belong to only the kitchen.

In Fiji, women play an important role in economic and social development. As nurses and doctors, they are the driving force in the health service. In the tourism and entertainment industry, they occupy important positions and play key roles in management.

But some women are so engrossed in their new-found power, for want of a better world, that they have neglected their roles as mothers in the family. They allocate less time for the family. And this has inevitably led to the weakening of the family unit of which the mother is traditionally - and naturally - expected to be a pillar of strength.

The family is not the same when she is not there. Children especially know that nothing beats a mother's love and attention.

In most families, she spends less quality time with the children because she has to work.

Women's rights groups will point out, and rightly too, that men have to share the responsibility of looking after the family. Of course both parents have to support each other if the family unit is to remain strong and steady.

But the traditional role of women in the family cannot be absolutely ignored because of changing lifestyles or because they are now better educated.

This is not to say that all working mothers neglect their roles at home. Fortunately, some women including professionals such as doctors and teachers have not forgotten or ignored that important role despite work pressure. They carefully balance their time to work and family knowing both are important in their lives.

It would be nice to see women's rights activists interviewing more of these women.

It is important that while we have to accept and adapt to the changing lifestyles and western influence in our families, traditional roles of women as mothers and care-providers are not ignored.

Those who totally ignore that role are neglecting a vital and moral duty not only to the family unit but to society as a whole. Breakdown in family units create social problems.

No matter how liberated their views are about their roles, women just cannot afford to ignore their primary responsibility to their families.

International Women's Day would be an opportune time to reassess how well they are doing in that area, both individually and collectively.

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