In Kenya 9.89 million women are employed compared to the number of employed men which is 9.79 million. I stand to be corrected but that shows how women seriously take financial stability. I started my career journey as a casual worker, Working three only days a week then before being absorbed as permanent staff. Not necessarily I had bills to pay but I wanted to relieve my guardian the burden of taking care of me. For me, there is nothing more satisfying and encouraging than being able to help those who take care of you any way you can.
I have worked ever since my first paying job in 2015 but unfortunately got laid off in April 2019 while on maternity leave. Having gotten used to taking care of myself and doing things on my own and now suddenly without a stable source of income was very difficult. The sudden transition to being jobless and with a newborn was a rough road for months. I was having trouble with the house-help I had at the time and when my son was two months old, she left. I was always stressed and in a low mood all the time and was slowly sinking into post-partum depression. During the day I would be with my son in the house while my hubby went to work. I remember always breaking down out of nowhere and crying uncontrollably when my son was asleep or just randomly when doing house chores. Losing a source of income and being a first-time mother felt like a lot to deal with, coming from a life of always being the one who took care of myself and ensured everything was in order. Looking back at that period of my life, I always feel like losing that job was not worth what I put myself through.
Months later, one of my friends who had been my senior at work was pregnant with her second child. She was not happy with how her situation was being handled and she also had to quit. A different friend of mine was also denied leave to prepare for her wedding and time for her honeymoon. She went for one or two days and when Covid-19 was declared a padermic she was the first one to get laid off. Thinking about this just makes me sick. Working for almost ten years only to get laid off with absolutely no opportunity or strategy to plan out for your exit. Sometimes you have to say enough is enough. Giving up a job at such a workplace means you care more about your mental health and your future.
Most are the times women are put between a rock and hard place. We need money to take care of our families and our jobs are taking the life out of us. Most of us give our work 101% everyday yet without a leave or sick leaves and also working on public holidays with nothing to show for it. The labor laws clearly states that the weekends and holidays are optional for employees but if it calls for them to work those days they should be paid 200%, but most employers ignore this law. There is a reason why that is in the labor laws. Many overlook that and go mute about it to avoid getting fired and end up crushing on the inside.
Relationships and dating in general can be complicated for woman in unfair working environments. For instance, if you work in the service industry, you may have an off day just once a week. That off-day may be a weekday when most people are at work. If you are dating someone who has a normal 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. job you find that when you are off work, they are at work and when they are not working you are. If you are lucky enough, you and your partner will find time in the evening to maybe go out for a cup of coffee or generally try to make time. But it takes mature people to understand that. Online dating and communications on the other hand has become the easiest option of building relationships and have proven good results in marriages but it also requires very mature people to do it. I guess what am trying to say is online dating and communications are not for everybody. For me, identifying the person with a wrong motive from the right one with this age of ‘cat-fishing’ online needs a third inner eye.
Also, this has encouraged infidelity in our society, everyone is so busy with work to make time for their partners. Women trying to balance family, work, and side hustles because the salaries cannot cater for all the bills. This inability to strengthen our relationship by spending quality time has contributed to broken families, domestic violence or even murder and suicide. Currently we are experiencing a large number of suicide and murder cases in Kenya. I feel it’s important to help your employees to live a better life, with favorable work schedules that allow them to take time off to build other areas of their life. Families are very important. If you are not married you have your parent(s) and sibling(s) to spend time with, and if you are a parent you need to spend time with you partner and kid(s) and work on being the best parent you can.
As employees it is our role to know where to draw a line between our work and life outside work. When you look for a job, prove you can do that job better than anyone else but also do not forget you have a family and a future outside work. Leave a job interview room knowing not only your salary but how your work schedule is in respect to your personal life and the company culture must fit you in general. Kenya again has a high number of unemployment rates, especially among the youth. The only thing I can say is just play your cards well. As much as you don’t want to lose your job, or want a job badly, don’t lose yourself to work, and most importantly don’t lose your friends and family because you can be replaced at work but you can’t replace the people you love the most and time lost. Run your marathon wisely. You do not want to lose it running blindly.