Mauritius has seen tremendous changes during the past few decades in the socio-economic environment. Globalisation and technological changes have also opened new avenues to Mauritians which were previously unavailable to them. It is becoming a society where women are coming out of the private spheres of the home into the public sphere of the economy and politics.
Nevertheless while having adapted to the new economic opportunities, there has been an increase in the participation of women in the formal wage. The proportions of women in workforce in Mauritius from year 2009-2012 have increased considerably from 18,500 to 191,600 (Economic Social Indicators, statistics Mauritius). Women have benefited significantly from the upgrading of their economic status but at the same time have succumbed to stresses and strains of coping with their new roles in the ‘new age’ society.
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Moreover, The White Paper on Women in Development emphasises on the increasing employment of women in the labour market and the greater sense of individuality and how freedom felt by women themselves have brought about positive development. Such being the case, it is too much of a glorification to say that this reflects the changing roles of women in the Mauritian society.
1.2 Woman’s triple role within the family
Women play a very crucial role within the family and the society. They are the pillar of the house and they accordingly contribute in sustaining the family. Thus, women are associated with the triple role of productive (work outside the home), reproductive which is related to household tasks associated with children and family and community management. In the same context, Dunscombe and Marsden (1995) stated that women in paid employment bear the burden of working a ‘triple shift’.
1.3 Changing functions of the family
Modernization and industrialization have brought about the breakdown of the extended family to the emergence of the nuclear family, where families are more independent and there is less contact with kins. Nowadays, another form of family which is becoming very popular with the rising rate of divorce is the single-parent family. The past two- decades have brought a great increase in the number of families with responsibilities both at work and at home. Nowadays, single-parents, working women and dual-earner couples are heavily involved in parenting (Carnier et al., 2004). Therefore, today families are stressed by the pressure of work, family and community demands.
It is argued that the family in industrial society is losing many of its functions. Sociologist like Fletcher (2000) claims that, the family’s functions have increased in ‘detail and importance’. The role of the family has changed from a producer to a consumer. Goods and services are increasingly being bought and consumed – houses, cars, furniture and education. Hence, the highly materialistic world demands that both husband and wife go out to work. The controversy is that women would then contribute to the family budget while men would not contribute to the household work.
The result is that less time is spent in the family. At times, children are unattended and social problems crop up leading to instability and turbulence in the family.
1.4 Changing status of women across times
The main thing today is that there has been a gradual improvement in the status of women. They have indeed achieved more political equality with men and they have equal rights in education. Most types of job are suitable for women today. Equal opportunity act has helped discard discrimination.
The ‘Economic Miracle’ of Mauritius is largely dependent on the growth of the manufacturing sector which was introduced in 1970s. It has been the main engine of economic development in Mauritius and has absorbed large numbers of unemployed labour. The traditional women who were uneducated represented a fundamental pool of labour for the industrialists. The new ‘economic leverage’ has welcomed the earning of second salary amidst the family.
Everyone at all levels of society is becoming aware of the stress families face these days so as to struggle to balance their responsibilities at home and at work. This is evidenced from the fact that too often families have to choose between the demands of work and family, elderly parents and relatives. In Mauritius the two demographic trends in the increase participation rates for working mothers and dual-career couples have a profound effect on the spheres of work and family. It is generally recognized that the extensive pressure arising from work environment and from family environment can produce high-levels of work-family conflict for many employees.
In brief, development is good for any country but at the same time it has added extra burden on women particularly balancing the conflicting demands of family life and career.
1.5 Functionalist perspectives on work and family
According to functionalist, families are living in a post modern way of living which is very good for the society as they prefer not to have children because of their career and some prefer to stay-single and they are going according to the needs of the society. P and B Bergers argue that the bourgeois family already teaches children what the society want for instance, strict moral values and value economic success. E.Leach (1996) argues that the Nuclear family is stressed. They are exploited by the capitalist and they are alienated; they work because they have no choice. Family are nowadays privatized, they do not want people to know what is happening in their yard.
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1.6 Problem statement
It is principally through the family that social values and knowledge are transmitted from generation to generation and hence this reinforces the social fabrics. Like any other country, the Mauritian’s Government is playing a fundamental role in trying to maintain the balance between work and family life. If the family is stable, this will have a direct impact on the society and hence on the country.
On one hand, the family life in Mauritius is being eroded in the face of the demands of work and increasingly long hours in at work. Practically, many members of the Mauritian family return home after work at different times and the traditional family meals that were customary in the past, are now reserved for weekends. Many parents strive to find time to spend with their children during the working week. The twin pressures of work and family life are raising stress levels within the home and creating much pressure. Parents are struggling to fit all their chores into shorter time frames because of lack of time. Due, to the constraint of time imposed by work schedule, various social problems have cropped up. Infact there is increasing divorce rate (0.47 per 1000 people) and going by this, it is assumed that children are having recourse to drug, alcohol and cigarette smoking.
On the other hand, despite the so called equality of sexes advocated by feminists, it is seen that the responsibility of looking after the family relies mostly on women. Hence, housework and looking after children remain predominantly “women’s work”. Women’s works have been marginalised throughout the history. Women are more likely to concentrate on their work than family. Therefore, family being a basic institution it is very necessary to know what is causing the breakdown of the family, how children are able cope with it and its negative effects on children especially adolescents.
This project aims to make an assessment on the impact of the relationship between work and the situation of children within the modern family.
- To probe into different occupational sectors in Mauritius to measure the impact of work on family life balance;
- To see whether women are able to handle their triple role within the modern family;
- To see whether the notion of family being functional in the society as advocated by functionalist really stand in the Mauritian society,
- To see whether children belonging to single-parent families more affected than other children;
- Find out respondents views on does social problems like Juvenile Delinquencies are occurring due to lack of supervision of parents in the modern family; and
- Propose findings and solutions.
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