Working Mums Need Flexibility and Acceptance

Mother and freelance IT trainer Poornima Nadarajah shares her thoughts on the support women like herself need to succeed.
By Kay del Rosario 05 Oct 2022
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During the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, freelance information technology (IT) trainer Poornima Nadarajah found it easy to book a job.

Almost everyone was forced to work from home, which suited her just fine as the primary caregiver to her two daughters.

Now that the situation has improved, her work prospects declined.

“As far as IT goes, it’s not as easy [to find work] as during COVID time. Now, most employers want their employees to go back to the office.

“I did get a few offers… but I needed to be on-site all the time. This was not ideal for me,” Poornima said.

The 46-year-old mother hopes for more acceptance and flexibility to balance work and family responsibilities.

Part-Time Worker, Full-Time Mother

Poornima and her family are vegetarians. Unfortunately, a few years ago, there weren’t many good vegetarian food options.

Wanting her kids to eat healthily, Poornima decided that she should cook all their meals – including lunch which she sends over to their school.

“Cooking doesn’t end; it takes up most of my time,” she said.

But cooking is just one out of a long list of tasks she must complete daily. She also helps her daughters, aged 16 and nine, with their schoolwork and attends to their other needs.

Within this busy schedule, she finds time to do her freelance work.

“It was a big challenge for me. But over the years, I learnt to manage my time better. I taught my girls how to help themselves and began cooking easier dishes.

“I used to cook elaborate meals, but nowadays, I try to simplify,” said Poornima.

This has lessened her load and even allowed her to pursue other interests. She shared: “I now have time to upgrade myself because there are new things coming up.

“This keeps me going.”

A Conversation Worth Having

Poornima recently attended NTUC’s #EveryWorkerMatters Conversations held in her community. This particular session sought to understand the aspirations of women like her through a focus group discussion.

It centred around their concerns about returning to the workforce, juggling work and caregiving duties, and the support they need at various stages of their lives.

Poornima found the discussion to be particularly meaningful.

“I was quite impressed with it because it does get everyone’s perspective. The person sitting at the top may not know the difficulties the people at the other levels are going through.

“Initiatives like this help to get their feedback so that in future, workplaces can be more adaptable for everyone and inclusive,” she said.

When asked what she wants the workplace of tomorrow to look like for women, Poornima spoke based on experience: “As a working mother, I wish the future workplace would be a hybrid workplace allowing the employees to work from home and also on-site.”

Hopefully, it won’t take another pandemic to make this happen.

The focus group discussion was part of the #EveryWorkerMatters Conversations, a larger-scale series of engagements by the Labour Movement to engage all workers across various life stages.

Find out more about the #EveryWorkerMatters Conversations at conversations.ntuc.sg.