For the longest time, women have been considered and treated as the weaker sex as compared to their male counterparts. The human race is considered to be the only one in nature where females depend on males for survival (Perkins 2006). The relationship between men and women is characterized by women serving as domestic workers and playing the role of mothers.
Prior to civilization, women were treated as objects and man’s property and source of pleasure. This role was passed down to the young generation who in turn passed it to their children. This at last developed into a culture that portrayed man to be a better and a stronger being than the woman.
In the recent past, women have come out strongly to defend and fight for their rightful position in the society. They have also demanded to receive the same respect and rights accorded to men. This can be said to have been achieved as a result of education.
Women have resorted to hiring the services of house help and cooks to take care of domestic chores hence freeing them from house work. Women have also sought the services of baby sitters and even child care centers. Creation of this free time away from family life and domestic hustle has made women reconsider their economic viability.
In this paper, the author will look at how the availability of child care has affected the participation of women in the labor force. To this end, the researcher will address some of the benefits and costs of child care to the women.
Childcare in Contemporary Society
In contemporary society, male superiority can be considered to be a thing of the past. Both men and women are considered equal and studies have shown that women are also as economically viable as men. Both men and women engage in economic activities and are able to meet their needs without one having to depend on the other.
Such civilization has also led to division of labor, an act previously considered impossible. Men have learnt to appreciate the fact that women are also human beings just like them and that they deserve equal and fair treatment (Perkins, 2006).
One factor that has previously inhibited the success of this evolution is the presence of children in the family. Children inhibited their mother’s mobility. Women would resort to seeking the assistance of their close relatives and even neighbors to keep take care of their children while they went to work. This method was however not effective since the mother would have to create extra time to be around her children. As a result of this concentration at work was minimal (Blau et al., 2003).
Children also greatly influenced the mobility of their mother as compared to that of the fathers. Child care is considered to be the responsibility of the mother and includes activities such as breast feeding at the early stages of child development. This meant that mothers had to stay close to their children.
Women would thus be hindered from taking up a career away from home. Men on the other hand would move freely in the job market. Introduction of child care helped turn this round and women would now be able to travel all over the world in search of jobs (Hill, 2006).
Introduction of child care has now become popular in many developed and developing countries among them Canada. This development has helped women to get more involved in economic ventures than before. Women are now able to exploit their economic potential in their respective careers without worrying about their children’s welfare. Women are given the opportunity to compete favorably with men (Hill, 2006).
Effects of Childcare on Women’s Labor Force Participation
Childcare services relieve mothers of their responsibility to take care of the children. These services may be sourced from babysitters or even baby day care centers. This renders a mother free to do whatever she may want with her time. It is however important for the parents to explain to the children why they need the services of child care provider so that the children may not feel neglected (Kimmel & Aronson, 1998).
Though helpful, this method may severe the ties between children and their parents. Parents should create extra time to catch up with their children’s progress. Free time such as weekends should be used constructively to try and cover up for the time that the children spent away from their parents. It is also important to acknowledge the fact that no childcare intervention can be considered to be important than parental care. Mothers therefore should not overuse this service (Degler, 1996).
Childcare has allowed women to be self reliant. Time that would have been spent watching over the children can be used in more economic viable activities. Today, studies reveal that women contribute to about one third of the world’s workforce. About half of this population has families. This means that about fifteen percent of the world’s labor force benefits from childcare. This also gives women the chance to be independent from their husbands. This also improves a family’s living standards due to increased earnings.
Childcare has also enabled women to be more flexible. Women can now work from different locations yet run their families smoothly. Women get an opportunity to work away from home without negatively impacting on their families. Canadian women for example have been observed to be increasingly ambitious.
They compete for top position with men. Studies have also shown that these women attain outcomes comparable to those of their male counterparts or even better. They are also able to seek jobs away from home without the fear of being away from their children. They are assured of the fact that the children are well taken care of.
Childcare has also been of great benefit to women who are single parents. Such mothers are given the opportunity to take care of their families with ease and also take up the responsibilities of the father in the family. To fulfill these responsibilities, women engage themselves in economic activities to generate income.
They thus move into the job market to provide the much needed labor force. Here they can work peacefully knowing that their children are well taken care of hence increasing their concentration and productivity in their various posts in the job market (Blau et al., 2003).
This flexibility and increased concentration has enabled women to make big strides in their participation in the labor force. Many women have excelled in the various posts over the years. Taking the case of Canadian women, it is noted that they have been able to head giant corporations and companies. Women are now known to be as productive as men. They have the capability to lead their organizations into success. Such women have also earned the respect of their male junior staff who they now lead (Degler, 1996).
Child care has also empowered women to be of economic importance to the country at large. Women now can provide labor to government departments. Canadian women for example hold important dockets in the government. Some of these women have risen to the ministerial positions. This way, the women not only serve their departments but also their countries and the world at large.
Research has shown that women exhibit capabilities to perform just as well as their male counterparts in the work place. This further increases the urge of women in the society to participate in the labor market. Those women who are already in powerful positions introduce policies that strengthen and empower the weaker women in the society. They also serve as role models for the young women who strive to be just like them later in life (Perkins, 1996).
Childcare has also challenged the perception that some jobs are a preserve of men. Women have in the recent past engaged in almost all forms of jobs. Women have provided labor in almost all sectors of the world’s economy. A case in point is the Canadian women discussed above.
These women seek both sedentary and manual work just like men to earn a living. They can also engage in technical activities that include engineering among others. This has helped prove to the world that there is no distinction between men and women other than gender. This has gone a long way in enhancing equity in the society (Perkins, 2006).
Women have also become more involved in the service provision industry. Childcare has encouraged the participation of women in providing labor force in this sector. Women have actually dominated the service provision sector taking up jobs such as hair dressing and design. Canadian women dominate this section of the economy with many of them running their own businesses. This has also encouraged self employment with most beauty parlors belonging to women.
Women participation in the economy can be summed up in one quote, “what a man can do, a woman can also do” (Kimmel & Aronson, 1998: p. 3). Childcare has given women an opportunity to prove their worth to the world. Women have been able to provide the much needed labor force in the economy.
This has in some sense created equality between men and women. The earnings of these women can now be used to supplement the family budget. This situation is portrayed best by Canadian women who have engaged in income generating activities to provide for their families.
Because of the income generating activities, there has been a decrease in social vices such as prostitution. Women have been empowered to earn respectable income rather than depend on others for support. They have also changed their status from house wives to equal partners in running the affairs of their families like in the case among Canadian women. Women have also been able to dominate the service provision industry that was previously vacant.
Caution should however be practiced in providing and using childcare services. Parents would find themselves alienated from their children. Children may also feel neglected by their parents. This may cause tension and disunity in the families. The children may also lack parental love and care. Balance between work and family should therefore be maintained.
Blau, F. D., Ferber, M. A., & Winkler, A. E. (2003). The economics of women, men and work. Philadelphia: Temple University Press.
Degler, C. (1996). Introduction to women and economics. New York: Harper and Row.
Hill, M. A. (2006). Introduction to Charlotte Perkins Gilman- The making of a radical feminist. Philadelphia: Temple University Press.
Kimmel, M., & Aronson, A. (1998). Focus on Charlotte Perkins Gilman, Women and Economics. Berkeley. California: University of California Press.
Perkins, G. (2006). Women and economics. New York: Harper and Row Press.
Perkins, C. (1996). Women economics: New York: Harper and Row.