Motherhood as a Barrier to Re-entering Employment: Negotiating Tactics of Dhaka’s Affluent Urban Mothers

Motherhood as a Barrier to Re-entering Employment: Negotiating Tactics of Dhaka’s Affluent Urban Mothers

by Minu Ahmed

Abstract

Motherhood is a phenomenon that is an integral part of our lives, and we are all connected to and impacted by it in different ways. Employment is also another integral part of the human life, providing a means to living, personal growth and development, and self-identity. When these two worlds come together, they are either in harmony or in conflict, depending on the individual and their background.  In Bangladesh, it is a cultural norm to see women give up careers, all for the sake of their children and families. This has been in practice for generations to come and one would expect that this ideology would change with time and education, but that isn’t true. This is a phenomenon that is still occurring and will continue to do so unless there is an immense upheaval in people’s thinking and mentality. This study aims to take a look at the situation of Dhaka city’s urban mothers, who have had careers and find out exactly what factors cause them to discontinue employment after having children. There was very little literature present in the Bangladesh context on this topic, and thus, the study was exploratory and descriptive in nature. With the aid of in-depth interviews and using the case study method, the stories of these mothers were revealed. Interviews with employers were also conducted, in order to see their perspective on the situation as well. The best theory to describe this phenomenon was the Social Construction Theory of Reality, based upon which it was shown that motherhood as a barrier to employment was indeed a socially constructed occurrence.  The research was concluded with the understanding that without support (from family and employers) and government intervention, circumstances prevent Dhaka’s urban mothers to reach their full potential.

Keywords: motherhood, women employment, re-entering career, Dhaka City

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