Abu Dhabi’s working mums need flexible hours: survey
ABU DHABI // Working mothers often worry about balancing the demands of breastfeeding and a job at the same time, but many who cannot would then quit, doctors say.
A survey conducted in Abu Dhabi found that most women felt that more flexible hours in the workplace would help them significantly.
Khawla Saleh, an Emirati public health professional, conducted the survey. She questioned 84 women in the emirate who had a child in the past 10 years, about half of whom were Emirati.
“Out of the 84 women, only 12 were given flexible hours and 43 were given a restricted one hour off when they returned to work,” Ms Saleh said.
“Sixty-five per cent of the mothers report that their nannies care for their children.”
Sixty-four per cent of women surveyed wanted shorter working hours and 78 per cent wanted longer maternity leave.
Currently, some workplaces offer 45 days of leave, while others offer three months.
Fifty-nine per cent said that having a nursery in their office would help and 74 per cent believed that pressures on them would ease if fathers shared responsibilities.
While almost half were allowed to combine their annual leave with maternity or unpaid leave, 22 per cent were given time off for sick children.
“I think every organisation should see what suits them and what they can do,” said Ms Saleh, who conducted the research as part of an early childhood development fellowship programme conducted by the Salama bint Hamdan Al Nahyan Foundation, in collaboration with Yale University.
Filipina Ezra Lapuz Ramos had a baby boy at Bareen Hospital in Abu Dhabi yesterday. The expatriate, who has lived in the capital since 2009, has 45 days of maternity leave and will also use annual leave.
The financial analyst said her mother and other family members would help when she returned to work. “We will eventually hire a nanny,” she said.
Dr Rashi Gupta, a gynaecologist at iCARE Clinics in Dubai, said that 70 per cent of mothers she saw returned to work when their children were 18 months old or younger.
“Their number one concern is about how to manage breastfeeding,” said Dr Gupta.
“Although we advise employers to have flexible working schedules, most mums are left with no choice,” she said.
More education is needed for young fathers as well. If the partner is helpful, then there is less burden on the woman, she said.
People need to understand that women need space and comfort to breastfeed, said Dr Sejal Devendra Surti, specialist in obstetrics and gynaecology at Aster Hospital Mankhool in Dubai.
“I tell my patients that the nanny needs to be around since the baby is born. Two weeks before going back to work, I advise the mother to give more important work to the nanny and train the nanny,” said Dr Surti.
Updated: August 3, 2016 04:00 AM