World News: Working mothers in Malaysia battle increased gender inequality due to pandemic

Working mothers faced increased mental and physical health issues after the immediate effect of lockdown in Malaysia.

Women put 2.1 more hours of unpaid care work compared to men that highlighted the unequal gender distribution, according to The Women’s Aid Organisation, WAO.

WAO said: “Working mothers bear the distressful double burden of paid and unpaid care work where long care hours will lead to aggravated levels of mental and psychological distress.

“The new demands for unpaid care will further erode gender equality in our society.” 

Dr Nor Liyana Binti Ismail, 32, a medical officer and mum to a three-year old son, said: “It was really tiring and draining. The mental burnout is real, I couldn’t go so long with such a schedule.

“The longer, more frequent breaks that I required with my child made it difficult.

“I was stressed and overwhelmed everyday but all I could do was apply my coping mechanism and put a responsible person upfront first.

“It was a mountainous task and a very difficult journey but people must eat and people must survive so all you could do was just partition all those difficulties and tackle what you could do first.

“There was a lot of responsibility coming from being a woman and till today that has not changed yet.”

A report by UN Women across 38 countries confirmed that women do the lions share of unpaid work.

UN Women Rapid Gender Assessments revealed that unpaid domestic work increased by 60 per cent among women since Covid-19 and more women than men are leaving the workforce, perhaps as a result of these increased workloads.

Dr Soo Yeong, 49, university lecturer and mother of two daughters, said: “It was tiring and stressful due to the sudden change with the lockdown.

“I was struggling because as a mother, I had to work from home and cook for my family at the same time which made me really tired.

“I was more stressed than usual and I remember at the end of March I had developed gastric problems.

“I think working mothers experience more difficulty but our children need us because they struggle too and need our help.”

Despite the challenges that Dr Liyana and Dr Soo Yeong had faced, they pulled through just as how any mother would for their child.




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