Motherhood and the work-life balance ‘myth’
Madrid, Mar 8 (EFE-EPA).- A radical shift in the way we work due to the Covid-19 pandemic placed a disproportionate burden on working mothers and cast a light on the “myth” of striking a work-life balance, leading Spanish entrepreneurs and campaigners tell Efe.
Laura Baena, founder of Club de Malasmadres (“Bad mothers club,” in English), adds: “In the last two years women have paid for a lack of balance with their salaries and their mental health and this has dealt a heavy blow to equality.”
Spain’s swift enforcement of a strict lockdown and the closure of schools as the pandemic first sank its teeth into the country in March 2020 not only set work and childcare on a collision course for many parents but also highlighted persistent inadequate support structures, given that families were not provided the tools to achieve a work-life balance, Baena says.
“Women have borne the burden of care to a greater extent, as always, and many have had to quit their jobs to be care-givers,” the Malasmadres founder adds.
BURNOUT & MIDNIGHT OIL
Mariona Salvia, founder of Moth Studio, which offers handbags and accessories inspired by motherhood, says that during the pandemic her husband’s work was much more demanding, meaning she had to fit her business around greater childcare demands.
“I was forced to focus on my son,” Salvia adds. “I ended up working in the evening and at night, after the entire day, and at that stage, I did not have much energy nor drive to do so.”
“The emotional burnout was huge (…) I later realized the efforts we made.”
She is not alone.
During Spain’s initial three-month lockdown, “we witnessed many women working into the early hours,’ Eva Serrano Cavero, president of the Spanish Association of Businesswomen (ASEME) tells Efe.
In Spain 34,683 women registered as entrepreneurs between October 2019 to October 2021, 1,456 more than their male counterparts during the same period, according to the ministry of inclusion and social security.
The pressures of the pandemic forced many women out of work, to shutter businesses and, in some cases, to launch new projects to survive, according to Baena, from Club de Malasmadres.
Victoria Gabaldon, editor of Mamagazine, concurs.
“A percentage of mothers start a business out of a need, not out of a commitment to start a business, but simply because they need to work in another way that fits around their current situation,” Victoria Gabaldon, editor of Mamagazine, tells Efe.
“Socially and politically, I think we are light years away from what we need for women to strike a work-life balance,” she adds.
“In fact, I believe that a work-life balance is the great lie of our times.”
“I think women in business encounter the same challenges we find in society just because we are women,” Maku Fernández, founder of the Naves de Papel bookstore, says.
Women entrepreneurs and campaigners have, nonetheless, found strength in solidarity.
Serrano Cavero, the ASEME president, tells Efe: “Very strong ties of sisterhood have been forged, which is a very positive and gratifying thing that we have taken from this period.”