x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 21 July 2017

Why some Emirati women choose to work

Some do so to ease the financial burden on the family, others do so for personal gratification.

Umm Ahmed is a working mother who leaves her three-month-old baby in the nursery to lessen the burden on the family.

The 24-year-old mum works for the Abu Dhabi Statistics Centre. Her husband has a well-paying job and did not ask her to work. But the cost of living is rising.

"If I stay home and wait for my husband to fulfil all of our needs, things will get accomplished, but slowly because the burden is on one person," she said.

The rapid growth in the cost of living and a recent increase in schools fees has put more pressure on many men in the UAE.

One of the goals of this Emirati mother was to work hand in hand with her husband, to ensure the financial health of the family. The couple has applied for a house, but it takes time to get approval and then there is another wait while the house is built.

"I fear that my children will grow up and we will still be furnishing our house due to one person carrying all the responsibilities," she said. "The most important thing for a child is a house. You can't clap with one hand. Couples need to cooperate and support each other.

"At the end of the day, whatever we are doing is for the benefit of our children."

But marriage is not the end of independence for Emirati women. Each mother has a story explaining why she works.

"I decided to work because I wanted to enhance my abilities and improve our living," Umm Sultan said.

Like Umm Ahmed, her husband has a well-paying job.

"Getting married doesn't mean one stops living her life," Umm Sultan said. "We make sure our money is spent on what we need, rather than what we want. This way our family's future is guaranteed."

The mother of two sees that there are pros and cons to being a working mother. Each must know her limits because men and women have duties and rights to fulfil. She stressed that marriage is a two-way relationship.

"Some women become arrogant and forget their responsibilities when they have a job," Umm Sultan said. "In a marriage, things should work in agreements from both sides."

Women in the workforce add to the UAE economy, said Hessa Tahlak, the director of corporate and development research for Dubai Women Establishment. The UAE is the only country in the world that has decreed the establishment of nurseries in the public sector.

"Not all the public sector has implemented the law though," Ms Tahlak said.

"Workplaces that have facilitated mothers with nurseries have improved their productivity."

But some Emirati mothers do not want to work because they give priority to raising their children.

Umm Mohammed married at the age of 18. She was pregnant with her first child by her second year of university, which led her to take a break from school.

Her husband's salary covers all of her needs, but "sometimes, I don't pressure him even if I wanted something because I know the cost of living is high these days".

"So being sacrificial is good at times", she added.

Getting married early had its pluses and minuses, she said.

"I am married to a man who understands the meaning of marriage and carries the responsibility of being a husband and father," she said. "But I had to sacrifice my studies for my children."

The mother of three plans to resume her studies soon because, "I need to be educated properly to raise my children in the best manner".

aalhameli@thenational.ae