Should a married woman work in the Gulf?

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When I see a working mother walks out of a posh office complex, what sort of feelings accumulate on the shades of our dark and dull mind? Questions may be – is this lady, an imbalanced equation of her life of losing something to gain something? Is it because she wants to earn more to attain financial security, give good education to her children, have a better life, have a secured and unchallenged life from her husband and in that bargain give less importance to her family life and children?

Ultimately, a question jumps from the darkness and hammers my mind as strongly as the waves of Arabian Sea ?.!!!!  Should an expatriate housewife living in the Gulf accept job opportunities or be a secluded to her home and only be a Home Maker? Isn?t it a million dollar question for all of us???!!!

Certainly, I would say, there are varied opinions expressed on the above topic with many positive and negative justifications to approve or disapprove the same. We have seen and experienced this problem in our society which, many times, becomes a strong social stigma and matter of family?s peace disruption.

Now, we have approached three eminent and socially well accepted Mangalorean ladies in the Sultanate of Oman to present their arguments and opinions to the readers of They are One – Mrs. Prescilla Machado ? never worked in her life. Second  Mrs. Eula Pinto ? always worked and third one Mrs Shalet Pereira ? initial stage of her married life worked with a reputed firm and then, became a dedicated house-wife.

We all have to listen to here arguments to these questions:

Prescilla Machado

Prescilla Machado is popularly known as A Lady with Golden Heart and we all, dearly call her Pressy Bai. Many Mangaloreans, including me, admired her down to earth simplicity. She has strong but very humble and natural desire to serve her community to the best of her ability and capacity.  We all see her as our community?s proud and hardworking social worker, who understands the needs and troubles of many Indians suffering in this Gulf country. As the President of the Poor of Saint Anthony Association (POSA) ? Sts Peter and Paul Church Ruwi, she had influenced tremendously with her charismatic capacity to help hundreds of needy expats of this region.

Prescilla was born and educated in Shirva. She is a graduate in Arts but never shown desire to work for anyone anywhere. She must have dedicated her life and time to nurture diligently her family and help the society at large. She is a very good sportswoman too and  shown strong capacity in cricket, throw-ball and other sports.

Although I had the opportunity, I had decided not to take up employment so that I could take care of my family..

Her husband, Vincent Machado is known as ?Shirvamcho Kollo? (Jasmine of Shirva ) in Muscat and holding a prestigious position with Saud Bahwan Group. Vincent Machado is an ardent lover of Konkani programs and literature and has continuously supported the Konkani art and cultural work in Oman.

Machados are blessed with three pretty and talented daughters, Vandana, Namratha and Gloria. 

Question 1:  According to you, should an expatriate woman work in the Gulf? And why?

The very purpose of people coming to the Gulf is to earn and save money and to secure their children?s future. Today, living has become so expensive and hence it is inevitable that women should work.  Also children?s education especially professional education is very expensive whether in India or abroad and an additional income helps to meet these costs.

Today most women are professionally qualified and so it is natural for them to take up jobs. Thus I feel that in today?s world, it is almost essential for an expatriate woman to work in the Gulf.

Question 2: What are the positive and negative effects of a wife taking up an employment in the Gulf?

There are several positive effects of a wife taking up employment in the Gulf such as adding to the household income, gaining international exposure, meeting new people and becoming more aware of the world around them. Working in the Gulf is a different experience from working elsewhere. Moreover, professionally qualified women (such as lady doctors) are paid as much as their male counterparts and are considered to be of equal calibre as men.

However, there can be negative effects of a wife taking up employment. For example, children are often left with babysitters and there are chances that they do not receive adequate care and affection from their mother when it is most needed.

Furthermore, since mothers are at work and unable to keep an eye on her children, the children could feel neglected and fall prey to bad company.

Another negative effect is that since both partners work, they come home tired and even the slightest difference of opinion could lead to friction between them.

Question 3: Why do you think most of the expatriate women work in these Gulf countries?

As I said earlier, the very purpose of leaving one?s near and dear ones back home and coming to the Gulf is to earn and save money. By working, these women add to their household income. However nowadays, most women are professionally qualified and it is natural for them to work in the Gulf. They work not only for financial remuneration but also for their own creative satisfaction.

Question 4:  You have chosen not to take up any employment in your married life. Do you have any specific reasons for this decision?

Although I had the opportunity, I had decided not to take up employment so that I could take care of my family. An important deciding factor was that my husband?s job responsibilities require him to frequently travel abroad. He goes on business tours quite often and is sometimes away from home for a week or more. This makes it necessary for me to be available to take care of my home and family.  

Question 5: If you get financially attractive employment offer now, will you start working now?

I am unlikely to take up a job now. However I would be interested in volunteering or working with a non-profit organization.

Question 7: You have three very talented and brilliant daughters. One daughter has already married and settled down in her life. Will you encourage them to work after marriage?

Yes. I will definitely encourage my daughters to work. It is a modern day requirement that women be independent and self-sufficient. After graduating from universities abroad and obtaining professional qualifications, it is quite obvious that they will take up jobs. In fact, my eldest daughter who is married works for Citibank and is managing her home and career equally well.

Shalet Pereira

Shalet Pereira, a dynamic lady with passion to pursue anything in her life with zeal and great will power. She has shown tremendous ability and power of general knowledge in various quiz competitions and won laurels and awards in the past. Truly, many times she has always exhibited her true spirit of community service in many events.

Born and brought up in Valencia, Mangalore. She secured her BA and MSW graduation from Mangalore and then worked for Family Welfare Agency, Roshini Nilaya, Mangalore, NIMHANS ? National Institute of Mental Health & Neuro Sciences, Bangalore and Anandashram Project ? Mangalore.

Every woman in this world owes it to herself to make the optimum use of the opportunities that life has to offer…

She married to an equally powerful and talented person, Benedict Pereira of Bajpe, Mangalore Diocese and then joined foremost educational institution of Oman, Sultan Qaboos University. 

Shalet and Benedict are blessed with smart and talented two daughters, Tanya and Tamsyn. Tanya and Tamsyn have shown their great ability in education and have won awards and laurels from various institutions and organizations.

Q:  According to you, should an expatriate woman work in the Gulf?  And why?

A:  Every woman in this world owes it to herself to make the optimum use of the opportunities that life has to offer.  These days most women are highly qualified and skilled in their respective professions.   When they are employed, they contribute enormously to the society.  Whether they work in the Gulf or not, is based largely on personal priorities and these clearly vary from person to person.  What all working women need is a helpful and supportive husband more so in the Gulf, when the rest of the family members are not around to help. 

Q:  What are the positive and negative effects of a wife taking up an employment in the Gulf?

A:  On the positive side, there are the financial benefits.  Apart from this, in most organizations you get to work within a multi-cultural environment, which unquestionably promotes career growth. 

On the negative side, stress levels can be high due to tight schedules and deadlines and this in turn can affect one?s health.  By the time you get home you are too tired to spend quality time with your kids and this leaves you feeling very guilty.  For sometime in my life I found that my maid knew more about my children?s school life than I did.  I guess that was my first wake-up call.

Q: Why do you think most of the expatriate women work in these Gulf countries?

A:  It is difficult to make a generalized statement in this regard.  Money could be one of the reasons as almost everyone wants to have a better life and save for a rainy day. 

In places like U.A.E. where the house rents are so high, an additional paycheck goes a long way in relieving the financial burden. Many women also feel that a good qualification deserves good employment and rightly so. 

A third reason could simply be the fear of boredom and believe me, this is not uncommon.

Q:  You were employed with one of the prestigious organizations in this country and then later, you stopped working.  Do you have any specific reasons for this change?

A:  My years with Sultan Qaboos University were some of the best years of my life.  I had the opportunity to work in a huge multi-cultural organization and had friends from all nationalities and professions.  To this date, I am in touch with many of them.  SQU was like a second home to me for eleven long years.   

However, the decision to resign was not taken suddenly.  I had been thinking about it for almost a year.  It had occurred to me that I had never had the chance to be a homemaker.  I had never been there to welcome my children when they came back from school, nor had the time to listen to them, baked a cake for them or even moved around the furniture ? you know things that every normal housewife does.  I even began to envy my friends who were staying at home. The departure of my maid was the catalyst that prompted me to take the decision to resign.  Its seven years now since I have been ruling the roost at home and I have not had a moments regret.

Q:  During your working life, how did you manage your home?

A:   Initially, I managed with babysitters but some years later I had my second daughter and I just couldn?t manage without maids.  I was not very lucky with the first couple of maids and spent more time in my office worrying about what was happening at home.  Then I had this wonderful maid who stayed with me for four years. She was an expert at cooking, cleaning and best of all, looking after kids.  It was smooth sailing until she decided to leave us in order to get married.  I must add here that during all the years of my working life, I had my husband?s constant support and help without which I could not have managed. 

Q: If you get financially attractive employment offer now, will you start working again?

A:  First of all, I have to be mentally prepared to get back into the ?working woman?s role,? which means no family obligations.  Secondly, the job has to be challenging. 

So, if I start working again, it will not be solely for the financial factor.  I have a healthy respect for money but I believe it is only the means to an end, a necessary evil.  When it fails to be the necessity in our lives, it becomes an obsession.    

Q:  You have very talented and brilliant two daughters.  Will you encourage them to work when they settle down with their spouses?

A:  The present generation is very focused and practical.  Not idealistic like we used to be.  I?m sure my daughters will want to work eventually.  Since I have experienced both sides of the coin, I can only advise and support them.  Either way, it will be entirely their decision. 

Eula Pinto

Eula Pinto is a majestically talented but humanly humble lady beaming with pretty smile on her ever-bright face. She is always enthusiastic to encourage and motivate people around her to move forward in their lives and achieve the desired goals. She enjoys helping the needy people and hence, currently actively involved with Poor of Saint Anthony Organization of Sts Peter and Paul Church – Ruwi.

Hailing from Falnir, Mangalore, Eula completed the M. Com. degree and post-graduate diploma in Business Management with brilliant records. She started her professional career as Lecturer in Commerce at St. Agnes College ? Mangalore. After arriving in Oman, she worked with various prestigious organizations like Oman Fisheries Co. SAOG, Oman Refinery Co. SAOG and Gasoline Blending Refinery – Dubai. Currently, she works as Executive Assistant to the Executive President ? Oman Telecommunications Co. (Omantel), one of the foremost telecommunication organizations in Oman.

It can be worse if the family lacks a trustworthy and sincere domestic help, which in turn can also play upon the physical and mental health of the mother…

Married to one of the master Public Speaker and inspiring leader of our community, Donald Pinto. They are blessed with three dynamic and talented children. Daniel studying in second year Engineering, Deborah in Eleventh and David in Eighth Standard.

Eula always loves to contribute her valuable time and energy for the benefit of the Mangalorean community and hence, along with Donald, has worked relentlessly to organize various charitable church projects and events. She has also served in various posts in MCCP Executive Committee and fruitfully exhibited her organizing abilities.

Q: In your opinion should expatriate women work in the Gulf? Why?

A: It is said, ?Man cannot discover new oceans unless he has the courage to lose sight of the shore.?  Any healthy individual who has the requisite academic and professional skills should consider working in the Gulf, or for that matter, any place else where his interests are best served.  The same also holds true for women, provided of course the work environment is deemed safe for the gentler sex.  A woman must consider taking up a job whether or not her spouse is well-to-do or earning well.  A regular job not only keeps in check potential boredom at home, a laidback attitude, and purposeless life, but it can also prove satisfying and professionally rewarding.

In fact, working in the Gulf offers an experience that?s quite distinct from that at home in our own country. In the Gulf, we work with people of different nationalities and cultures.  Actually, you find yourself playing the role of ?ambassador? representing your country and culture.  In my opinion a job in a foreign country will make a woman more enthusiastic, energetic and better organized. A working woman will be better groomed, better informed and develop a better understanding of the world around her.  She will become more self-confident, tactful and successful ? qualities gained as a result of her interaction with people at the workplace and her handling of the challenges that come her way.

This is not to suggest that life in the Gulf is a bed of roses. Far from it! Life here can also have its ups and downs, and its share of uncertainties as well.  But these adversities will only help to shape and strengthen the persona of the working woman and prepare her for the realities of life.  In fact, this will develop her resilience and strengthen her ability to deal with possible hard times that she and her family may encounter.

Q:  For a married woman, what are the pros and cons of taking up employment in the Gulf?

A: For one, a working mother may not be able to devote enough time to ensure that her children get the necessary attention at home for their proper educational, emotional and social growth.  It can be worse if the family lacks a trustworthy and sincere domestic help, which in turn can also play upon the physical and mental health of the mother.  But many of these shortcomings can be addressed if the working mother has the backing of a loving, supportive and understanding spouse.  The responsibilities of married life do not fall on the mother alone, but on both husband and wife.  They must stand by each other through thick and thin. 
Q: Why do you think most of the expatriate women work in the Gulf countries?

A: The only preparation for tomorrow is the right use of today! No doubt, the primary motivation for women to take up employment in the Gulf is monetary remuneration.  Women work to supplement the husband?s income and thereby provide for better style of living for the family.  They are also motivated by the need to ensure that their children get a proper education, while also working to secure the future financial interests of the family.

Q: You have always chosen to work despite the inherent constraints as a mother and spouse.  To what do you owe this resolve to keep working?

A: It is said, “Don?t let your learning lead to knowledge, let your learning lead to action!? Yes, I have been working all through my married life for two main reasons.  Firstly, it was necessary for me to make full use of my educational qualifications and capabilities.  Secondly, I felt the need to contribute to my family?s financial security.  Life can be very insecure in the Gulf.  A job has been necessary to help meet the growing demands of the family, as well as to save something for a rainy day.  Professional work has kept me young, energetic and better informed. As the saying goes: All our dreams can come true ? if we have the courage to pursue them.

Q: As a working mother how do you manage your home?

A: Well, a person who fails to plan, plans to fail!  Hence I plan my entire day?s activities and then prioritize them accordingly.  My home takes top priority.  Together with the Almighty’s help, a supportive and understanding husband, loving and caring children, a trustworthy live-in maid, and my enthusiasm and self-confidence, I have not only been able to manage the house and office, but also set aside time for Church and community activities. I sincerely Praise the Lord for giving me the ability to do so.   It is said “our days are identical suitcases ? all the same size, but some people can pack more into them than others”. I believe in this.

Q: You have been blessed with two very talented and bright sons and one daughter.   Will you encourage your daughter to work after marriage? Also, will you encourage your sons to marry only working girls?

A: Yes, I will definitely encourage my daughter to work after marriage, but the decision ultimately lies with the couple. Regarding my sons, I would encourage them to marry working girls, as I believe; working girls are more broadminded and independent.  Again, the decision is theirs alone.  It is said, God gives birds their food, but they must fly for it!

Thank you!

Author: Clarence Pinto – Muscat

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