​Working mothers' plight draws social concern

By Wu Jin
0 Comment(s)Print E-mail China.org.cn, March 9, 2018
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Li Lu, mother of a four-year-old, recalls that before her baby reached one year of age, she slept barely five hours a night. 

As a result, when she started back to work after her four months of maternity leave, she couldn't help nodding off every day on the subway between the office and home.

"The stress made it hard for me to breathe," she said.

Among young working mothers in China, Li's suffering is a shared experience, rather than an exception. Working moms are struggling to achieve balance between life and work, but find that the elusive equilibrium is a conundrum that surpasses individual resolution.

Those young women, like Li, know too well the hidden rules of corporate culture towards women during pregnancy and with young children.

"Once female employees announce their pregnancies, they will be excluded from every opportunity for promotion or a raise, no matter how hard they work. And their marginalization will last for a certain period of time," Li said.

However, when Li managed to find a new job with higher pay to support her family, she started to realize that she was no longer competitive in the job market.

With the overall change in family-planning policy which now allows the birth of a second child across the country, employers are becoming reluctant to hire women who are married or have kids.

"They are afraid that those women will likely be distracted by family duties," Li explained.

Zhao Xi, who works in human resources at a financial institution, agrees that her company is less interested in female candidates who are married or with children.

"We have several vacancies for entry-level jobs which are best suited to recent graduates or unmarried young women who can spend more time on their jobs. After all, the company needs to take labor costs into consideration," Zhao explained.

However, some female employees believe the costs have been overvalued and the job market fails to build a working environment favorable to women.

Tong Lixin, a 28-year-old woman working in the public sector, complained that the official four-month maternity leave is far from sufficient, pointing to the fact that her workplace is not equipped with lactation rooms, forcing her to use restrooms or storerooms to express milk for her baby every day.

Accordingly, a growing number of experts believe that an equal and respectful working environment for women should be ensured through additional legislation and enforcement of extant laws and systems enacted for the protection of women's rights in the job market.

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