Dewa offers relief to working mothers

Dewa is the latest government organisation to open a nursery in response to a 2006 Cabinet decision.

Dubai, UAE - February 3, 2010 -  Preschool classroom at the new DEWA child care next to Wafi Mall. (Nicole Hill / The National) *** Local Caption ***  NH DEWA02.jpg

DUBAI // For Ahlam Abu Zaid, the launch of Dubai Electricity and Water Authority's first crèche means she can be closer to her son while saving money on childcare. For three years, the working mother from Jordan has paid a private nursery Dh1,350 (US$370) a month to care for her three-year-old son, Mustafa, while she works at Dewa's head office in Garhoud. Now that Mustafa is one of 32 children attending the newly completed centre, which was inaugurated yesterday, her childcare costs will drop to Dh500 a month.

"Childcare is very expensive," she said. "It was very good at the nursery we used. He learnt things there. But I am happier knowing he is near to my job." Dewa is the latest government organisation to open a nursery in response to a 2006 Cabinet decision that requires all departments with more than 50 female employees, or a female staff with more than 20 children below the age of four combined, to open such a centre on its premises.

Despite the 2006 decision, fewer than 20 government entities have established a nursery or are in the process of doing so. Fatima Deemas, senior manager of the organisation's employee relations department, said the Dewa centre might expand to enrol more children, depending on demand. The crèche is the first of several planned for other Dewa branches over the next two years. Saeed al Tayer, managing director and chief executive of Dewa, said the centres were an important part of helping women to balance careers with motherhood.

"The main objective of the nursery is to provide a positive work environment to support working mothers and help them to achieve a balance between their professional and family life," he said. Ms Deemas said there were already several expectant mothers who had registered their unborn children on a waiting list for the centre. Mothers are not allowed to visit their children during working hours, except in an emergency, but those who are breastfeeding would be called to do so during the day.