Oman


Working mothers in Oman increase fourfold


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Muscat: The number of working Omani mothers in both the private sector and the government has quadrupled to 37,000 from 8,000 in 1985, according to the statistics of Manpower and Civil Service ministries.

The sudden rise in the number of working Omani mothers reflects the rising trend of women enrolling in the universities and colleges in the Sultanate. Figures with the Ministry of Higher Education show that a little over 60 per cent of total students pursuing their degrees or diplomas are women, including those abroad and in the country.

Women make up about 51 per cent of the Omani population.

Attitude towards women has changed as well since 1985, according to women pursuing different careers in the country.

Fatma Al Kaabi, a mother of two and working with the customer services with Oman Air, said, "A lot has changed in the last 25 years. Parents now want their daughters to be not only educated but to also work so that they can look after themselves and not depend on their husbands." But changes are not only happening in the capital Muscat.

Parents, particularly from rural areas, have shed their views that daughters' roles were limited to just being married and raising children.

Parents' demand
"Parents of women outside the capital now lay down this condition for men who propose marriage that their daughters will not be housewives but equal partners with careers of their own, unlike those days when a man can force his wife to quit her job and stay at home," Shaikha Al Fareed, a member of the Nizwa Women's Association, told the Times of Oman.

Staying at home was never an option for economics graduate Maryam Al Balushi, after her first baby was born seven months ago.

"We could not have afforded to pay off the mortgage, car loans and other expenses if I had stayed at home. My husband knows that we need two incomes. Besides, what's the point of getting a degree if I just scrub and cook?"

Men now also shed their views that their wives should stay at home and raise children. They say it is not only about economics but social obligations as well.

"I encourage my wife to work as an example to all my children to show that both parents can be earners. Omani men need to accept the changing roles of women," Zuhair Al Hadhrami, an IT engineer at the Ministry of Defence, said.

But not all Omani men are okay with their wives working after their first baby is born. "I would not have my children raised by foreign nannies and see them picking up strange habits. Young children need their mothers at home all the time to make sure they are properly looked after," said Rashid Bahrami, a food and beverage salesman.

Child psychologists say that working mothers can still be close to their children.

"Working mothers can easily make time for their children after office time," said Rawya Al Suleimany, a psychologist at the Ministry of Health.

To get in touch: saleh@timesofoman.com

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