Her baby or her career? Women’s Rights NGO ironically forces their own employee to choose

An NGO in Peshawar, Community Appraisal and Motivation Programme (CAMP) has been working with Pakistan’s most underprivileged communities, it has been working throughout the country since 2002, responding to emergencies, improving access to quality health and education, creating livelihood opportunities, and working closely with communities and government departments to promote human rights, peace, and security.

You’d expect an organization like this to really value human life and would think of ways to make it better with every step they take. 

Sadly, their Media Coordinator Zeenat Khan faced something she never thought she would, considering the organization also works to help and protect women’s rights – being forced to choose between her child and her career. 

Zeenat Bibi is a mother that doesn’t have her parents or parents in law at home, she doesn’t have the luxury of leaving her child at home when she goes out to work. So, she brought her child to work. She still worked the way she normally would and was able to be near her child. But CAMP believed that this was unacceptable.

 Her child is an infant – 6 months old. 

In other parts of the world, this mother would’ve still been on her maternity leave but she was at work everyday being present to make sure she plays a part in other women getting their rights and she was the one denied the right to work. 

Zeenat took to twitter to raise awareness of what happened.

Zeenat was told to resign or leave her baby at home. She suggested that in the huge building they work in, they allow one room to be turned into a daycare, she was willing to pay for the maid too. CAMP refused and Zeenat was forced to resign. 

Her Formal Resignation Letter.

We ask every day “why are women still crying about not having equal rights” “women can work” “just get up and get a job, no one is stopping you” when in reality we forget that issues run deeper than just securing the job. Women in our society are expected to be the main person that brings up her children, the day she gets married it’s like a ticking clock – when will her career end and motherhood begin? Because we make it impossible for her to do both. Women are told “you’ll be leaving this job in maybe a year – you’ll have babies and you’ll have no time for office” when this is unfair. 

The fact that having children is like a real life “level up” for our society it baffles me why we don’t have mandatory daycares at offices. Why are parents supposed to pick between being a parent or working. This doesn’t just go for mother’s that don’t have help, this also goes for single dads. Not everyone has someone at home they can leave their baby with, and we know very well that you can’t leave your children with a maid in 2019. How hard is it for companies to sacrifice one room? Mostly parents are willing to pay for maids/supplies too so it shouldn’t even cost the company anything and it would significantly improve the working environment. 

What benefit would a company get by having daycares within their office buildings? 

  • Mothers will no longer need to resign after they have children – they’ll be able to be near them and can come back from maternity leave a lot sooner than they would if they had to fully separate from their babies 
  • Daycare gives employers access to more potential employees, when parents no longer have to choose one that stays home to look after their kids, they can both work. 
  • Less employees need to take days off because of their children. If they can be nearby they’ll worry less, work more. 
  • A survey that proved that less employees take days off, also showed that employees productivity rates shot up when on site daycare was available to them. 

To people who say “you can’t work if you have your kids nearby”– Parents are excellent multi-taskers.
Instead if they have their kids around their mind is focused on being more present at their offices instead of having to divide their attention. 

What happened to Zeenat is not a one off case. This happens in almost every office across the country. This is a problem! It keeps women bound to the chaar deewari of her home and makes it so that’s her only “real job” because once you’re a mother, that’s all you are. Will this system ever change? 

This shouldn’t have to be a fight between employers and employees. Being adults means you might have kids and build your families, why don’t employers work with the people they hire to make their lives easier instead of making sure they leave no stone unturned to make their lives worse?

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