Parents have to juggle between work and caring for their children. File pix.

THE other day, as I was listening to an address by National Population and Family Development Board chairman Datuk Mariam Mas at a seminar on work-life balance, I was shocked to hear disturbing news of the death of a 12-year-old girl.

She had earlier said a mere 12 per cent of Malaysian companies had flexible working hours, and the 30 per cent quota of women as decision-makers in the country had yet to be met.

These are among the indicators that we have yet to reach a work-life balance.

Even when there was no clear cut reason for the young girl’s death, her parents have to make a living, thus leading them to surrender the care of their young ones to a third-party like the nursery, kindergarten, school and other family members.

As a working mother, I have to juggle between work and family life. I have to worry about leaving my vulnerable young ones in the care of another person so that I can meet my work performance and expectations. The same goes for a working father.

Whenever my husband and I send our children to the nursery, they often cling to us for another five minutes of attention and want to know what our plans are when our work is over.

The daily demands of working parents are ever mounting; it is no surprise that commuting accidents happen as reported by Perkeso, especially involving parents who are on their way to work.

It was revealed that 80 per cent of the accidents occurred at the last mile of approaching the workplace.

Developed countries have experienced what we are experiencing (social ills caused by development and work-related deaths) and learned from them.

Their researchers have come up with models for flexible working, work-sharing and parental leave to achieve a win-win solution for everyone.

The models are there for us to emulate and learn from.

It is our duty to demand a work model that would be good for our wellbeing, children’s future and country’s survivability.

It should be a joint effort between the private and public sectors.

Non-governmental organisations like Wanita Pertubuhan Ikram Malaysia can educate the public, especially parents (young and inexperienced) on how to carry out their responsibilities, and get feedback on what works for them and us to build a safe and prosperous nation.

DR LILIS SURIENTY, Universiti Sains Malaysia, Penang.

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