Not very long ago, father used to be the only bread earner in a family. Mother stayed at home and looked after the children. But much has been done to empower women, who are considered to be the most neglected and extorted group of society. But policymakers and agencies working for development ignored the even more neglected group of the society, the children.
Policy and decision makers, women’s rights organization, and other women’s organization, so noble in their name, and notions failed to see a very clear outcome. They failed to integrate the measures to avoid any bad effect from women’s rapid empowerment. Now men and women often see themselves as rivals, not as the essential and harmonizing other-half. It has however achieved great success in empowering women and but failed to deal with how men may react to that. While they were supposed to educate men for this change, they failed. So, who are paying the price now? Divorce rate is increasing at an alarming rate. And its worst victims are children.
Women’s empowerment has encouraged mothers to work outside. Nowadays both fathers and mothers work and raise their children. But fathers face difficulties in accepting the change in women’s roles. Fathers can accept that women have the right to work. But they may not readily accept the fact that women can ask for their help in doing household chores.
A serious problem arises when both of the parents have to be away from home for their jobs. Who will look after the children? A number of options are there. The baby’s grandparents may look after the baby. If that is not an option, there are other measures like hiring a resident domestic worker or a baby sitter or leaving the baby to a daycare center. But that requires the parents to have such financial ability, which is not the case for most families.
Even if parents are able to find a trustworthy domestic worker or baby sitter, other problems remain. Parents may not be able to spend enough time with their children due to work, which may result in children feeling neglected. When parents come home, the neglected children seek attention. But the parents are tired and they want to take rest. So they react by becoming angry and scolding their children. The stress and everything bottle up and finally results in separation or even worse, divorce.
Children are the future of a nation. Proper mental and emotional growth of children requires passing enough time with both parents. Women have a voice, so they became empowered, and they are becoming empowered. What about the children? Who will voice for them? We vote against child labor, but we are the cause of poverty that leads children and their families to child labor.
We create a reality that is impossible for poor families to deal without putting their kids to work, and then we say stop child labor. Nothing could be achieved overnight. So, we should always make some backup plans for the transition period, when people slowly adapts to changes. But policymakers, decision makers, and international NGOs, and thousands of Ph.D. holders don’t seem to have any headaches. Why should they? They are earning well. And we are paying the price!