Pakistan Telecommunication Authority has announced a “work from home” policy for its female staff. In order to provide convenience and a comfortable working environment for women, female staff can work from home using telecommunication. In order to check the feasibility of this policy, PTA has selected three officers who have children to work from home one day a week. After the first phase more officers will be allowed to avail the offer. PTA has proudly announced that it was one of the first organizations that offered day care centre facilities to its female staff six years ago, and today are making it possible for women to work from home, providing all requisite facilities.

The new decision will not only empower employees and provide equal opportunities, but will also enhance productivity. These developments make the workplace more accommodating to people, rather than being adversarial places where one is required to follow rules that create fear. Work should be about personal and public growth, rather than a punishment. Flexible work hours can go a long way in making workers happy, and their work more productive.

However, in order to develop a policy that truly captures women being more comfortable at the workplace, it is necessary to make the actual office more hospitable for women and mothers. Women compete with men while also being expected to perform the role of mothers and care givers at home. They are paid less, and their work and lifestyle is always under public scrutiny. “Work from home” programs are great, but they can easily turn into the only jobs that women will start taking due to pressures to stay at home. A de facto segregation is not something that should be encouraged.

The burden is not just on the workplace, to make the situation better for women and mothers, but on families and the society too, to encourage and support workingwomen. In today’s economic environment, it is increasingly important for families to have two bread earners. This does not mean that a woman has to choose between her family and her job - though the situation is often represented as such. As a community we celebrate the fact that we have close knit families and support systems, unlike in the west. We take care of our elders, and our bonds of love and family extend beyond just our nuclear family. This bond has to be extended to women as well, and family support for her and her children can go a long way to help her be more productive at work and home.