“Having it all” is something many men aspire to in life. A successful man has a great career, a beautiful family, his health, and wealth. But rarely are those aspirations coupled with the phrase “having it all”. That phrase is typically used when talking about women. Do a Google search and you’ll come across countless articles on the phrase “having it all myth”. So you see, whereas it might be something perfectly acceptable for a man to want all these things, some people argue that it is unrealistic for a woman to want the same.
So here are my thoughts on the matter: If you are employed working woman, then I think the idea that you can have it all is a myth. The working world just isn’t designed around women of a childbearing age. That might not be a beautiful phrase to read, but it is the truth. The world of employment still has a long, long, way to go before it accepts – without question – that a new mother needs flexibility in her working life, and she needs it without having to compromise the progression of her career. That means flexible hours, remote working, and time off for dependents. It means the perception of a ‘mother’ in the workplace has to change. It means that caring for a newborn isn’t seen as “time off work” or a “luxury” but a necessity. Whilst things have improved in the last 50 years, it is still a long way off where it needs to be to give women an equal chance of climbing that career ladder.
However, I do think women can have it all in today’s world. Does that sound like I’ve contradicted myself? No. Re-read my second paragraph. Whilst it may be difficult to balance employment with motherhood, you can balance self-employment and motherhood.
Self-employment, either by starting your own business or by going freelance, is the only way I think it is possible for a modern mother to achieve the sort of balance she wants in her life. And there’s more. Not only is it the right option for an individual, but I think this is the best way that us woman can actually progress the cause of women in the workplace. Why? Because we become the employers, not the employees. We become the shapers, not the shaped. We can create businesses of our own that offer the sort of flexibility that women want. And surely that’s a far more powerful tool for changing the status quo than policy changes introduced by a predominantly-male political class.
So yes, we can have it all. But we need to be the ones to make that change. We need to reject the rules we’ve been given and start writing our own. Then, and only then, can we really try and achieve equality.
“Be the change you wish to see in the world”. Mahatma Gandhi
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