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How Can Women Who Quit Their Jobs To Be Full-Time Moms Restart Their Careers?

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She was a gold medallist graduate and an MBA holder from a reputed business school in India. As she completed her post-graduation, she was selected as a management trainee in one of the biggest consulting firms. Soon after, she was promoted to management consultant. She was living a life many could only imagine. She was working hard, had a supportive husband and in-laws, and she enjoyed several trips in a year.

The same continued until she got pregnant with her first child. She thought she would work as long as she could and she worked until seven months of her pregnancy and joined within two months of her delivery. Life changed a lot after her child and her priorities also changed. She thought that doing such a rigorous job was costing her special moments with her child and she decided to take sabbatical leaves. Initially, she thought, she would come back after a year but she got involved with her kid so much that she almost forgot about her job.

As was told by other mommies in her friend circle, she thought that taking care of her baby will prove to be the best job she ever had. Yes, it was, until her child grew up and she did not need to watch her for 24 hours. She silently mourned her dead career and spent several hours crying in the bathroom when others thought she was happy with her own decision. She knew it was her own decision to leave her job but now she knew that even if her job did not complete her, it definitely made her happy. And after deliberating upon it, she decided that her sabbatical of five years was finished and she would start working again.

Then Came The Real Picture In Front Of Her!

She was now not skilled enough for the same level of job and the jobs she was offered required her to work long hours, which she was not able to do now owing to her increased responsibilities. The skills she acquired five years back were of not much use today since the tools and applications had changed drastically in just five years due to advancements in technology. She was not mentally prepared to invest herself into studies now.

Image Credit: Kunal Patil/Hindustan Times via Getty Images

Is this not the story of several working women who leave their jobs for some reason and try to enter the industry years after leaving it?With advancements in technology and quick improvements in the working atmosphere and pattern, it becomes difficult for someone to continue work at the same level after years of leave. And with boredom and guilt, many times, women have to struggle with their emotions and ambitions. They find themselves trapped in situations where they do not want to stay at home but are not able to get a job as per their skills.

What Are The Solutions For This?

I believe just like in schools, there can be an informative career counselling service for these women. They have their specific challenges and keeping those in mind, focused guidance can be provided to them for their career enhancement. Some of the options that can be provided to them through career counselling are:

  • Information regarding freelancing and working from home: Several women find it easier if they can work from home and with flexible work hours. Many women find it comfortable working from their home with the timing being adjusted as per their availability. Going back to the office at regular hours is difficult for many, and information regarding such an option can be a great opportunity for several women.
  • Skilling and vocational courses: There are several women who have career gaps of more than 10 years. This much gap makes them unable to do anything in the field of their studies. They are not able to grasp new technologies that easily. At this time, it can be fruitful to guide them about the work opportunities that they can have according to their skill-sets.
  • Career guidance: It is highly necessary to provide these women with an expert career guidance. Guidance here means information. They should be able to know about the opportunities that are available in the industry. It is quite obvious that they have lost connections in the industry over the period and they need to be given information about the vacancies that are suitable to them.

Often, we forget the importance of careers for women who are also homemakers. Although it is not necessary for all women as some are happy fulfilling their duties as homemakers, yet many women crave going back to a working environment after their family obligations are fulfilled. Instead of neglect, they require constant motivation and information which can help them prove their worth.

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An ambassador and trained facilitator under Eco Femme (a social enterprise working towards menstrual health in south India), Sanjina is also an active member of the MHM Collective- India and Menstrual Health Alliance- India. She has conducted Menstrual Health sessions in multiple government schools adopted by Rotary District 3240 as part of their WinS project in rural Bengal. She has also delivered training of trainers on SRHR, gender, sexuality and Menstruation for Tomorrow’s Foundation, Vikramshila Education Resource Society, Nirdhan trust and Micro Finance, Tollygunj Women In Need, Paint It Red in Kolkata.

Now as an MH Fellow with YKA, she’s expanding her impressive scope of work further by launching a campaign to facilitate the process of ensuring better menstrual health and SRH services for women residing in correctional homes in West Bengal. The campaign will entail an independent study to take stalk of the present conditions of MHM in correctional homes across the state and use its findings to build public support and political will to take the necessary action.

Saurabh has been associated with YKA as a user and has consistently been writing on the issue MHM and its intersectionality with other issues in the society. Now as an MHM Fellow with YKA, he’s launched the Right to Period campaign, which aims to ensure proper execution of MHM guidelines in Delhi’s schools.

The long-term aim of the campaign is to develop an open culture where menstruation is not treated as a taboo. The campaign also seeks to hold the schools accountable for their responsibilities as an important component in the implementation of MHM policies by making adequate sanitation infrastructure and knowledge of MHM available in school premises.

Read more about his campaign.

Harshita is a psychologist and works to support people with mental health issues, particularly adolescents who are survivors of violence. Associated with the Azadi Foundation in UP, Harshita became an MHM Fellow with YKA, with the aim of promoting better menstrual health.

Her campaign #MeriMarzi aims to promote menstrual health and wellness, hygiene and facilities for female sex workers in UP. She says, “Knowledge about natural body processes is a very basic human right. And for individuals whose occupation is providing sexual services, it becomes even more important.”

Meri Marzi aims to ensure sensitised, non-discriminatory health workers for the needs of female sex workers in the Suraksha Clinics under the UPSACS (Uttar Pradesh State AIDS Control Society) program by creating more dialogues and garnering public support for the cause of sex workers’ menstrual rights. The campaign will also ensure interventions with sex workers to clear misconceptions around overall hygiene management to ensure that results flow both ways.

Read more about her campaign.

MH Fellow Sabna comes with significant experience working with a range of development issues. A co-founder of Project Sakhi Saheli, which aims to combat period poverty and break menstrual taboos, Sabna has, in the past, worked on the issue of menstruation in urban slums of Delhi with women and adolescent girls. She and her team also released MenstraBook, with menstrastories and organised Menstra Tlk in the Delhi School of Social Work to create more conversations on menstruation.

With YKA MHM Fellow Vineet, Sabna launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society. As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

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A student from Delhi School of Social work, Vineet is a part of Project Sakhi Saheli, an initiative by the students of Delhi school of Social Work to create awareness on Menstrual Health and combat Period Poverty. Along with MHM Action Fellow Sabna, Vineet launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society.

As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Find out more about the campaign here.

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A psychologist and co-founder of a mental health NGO called Customize Cognition, Ritika forayed into the space of menstrual health and hygiene, sexual and reproductive healthcare and rights and gender equality as an MHM Fellow with YKA. She says, “The experience of working on MHM/SRHR and gender equality has been an enriching and eye-opening experience. I have learned what’s beneath the surface of the issue, be it awareness, lack of resources or disregard for trans men, who also menstruate.”

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A Computer Science engineer by education, Nitisha started her career in the corporate sector, before realising she wanted to work in the development and social justice space. Since then, she has worked with Teach For India and Care India and is from the founding batch of Indian School of Development Management (ISDM), a one of its kind organisation creating leaders for the development sector through its experiential learning post graduate program.

As a Youth Ki Awaaz Menstrual Health Fellow, Nitisha has started Let’s Talk Period, a campaign to mobilise young people to switch to sustainable period products. She says, “80 lakh women in Delhi use non-biodegradable sanitary products, generate 3000 tonnes of menstrual waste, that takes 500-800 years to decompose; which in turn contributes to the health issues of all menstruators, increased burden of waste management on the city and harmful living environment for all citizens.

Let’s Talk Period aims to change this by

Find out more about her campaign here.

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A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

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A Guwahati-based college student pursuing her Masters in Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Bidisha started the #BleedwithDignity campaign on the technology platform, demanding that the Government of Assam install
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