I grew up with a mother who runs her business from home. I have seen the living room being transformed into a working space, and I have occasionally lost sight of the floor tiles because garments and bags are strewn all over, the only spaces you can step on are occupied by my mother and her business partners sitting cross-legged on the floor. My grandmother, halfway across the island, runs a sewing business from her garage, often using it as an excuse to rush back home after flying over for her grandchildren’s birthdays. These women are not only entrepreneurs running their own businesses, but are also mothers and wives who put their families first and foremost.
This situation is not unique to my family. Countless mothers across Indonesia manage both a household and a side-business. In fact, you are probably the customers of some of them: the neighbour that caters during her free time, the Instagrammer that posts daily updates of her newly put-together handcrafts, and those fashion designers whose prototype fashion creations appear on your Facebook feed. Or perhaps you know of women who do jobs that are more low-key: author-to-bes penning down their words on any scrap paper they can find around the house, a friend of yours that clerk part-time from her dining table, or other women in the neighborhood that package products for a bigger company.
Working from home, or homeworking, is not without its challenges. Unlike professionals who work in an office, homeworkers do not experience any distinction between their home or office as the physical spaces are merged. They also cannot set aside their house duties during office hours, as mothers are involved in both the household and their businesses around the clock. Microcredits are also hard to obtain as most women would not have a track record of reliable financial statements. Selling their products is another obstacle, as channels to showcase their creations beyond the networks of their homes are scarce.
It’s a tough world for these homeworking women, but I have seen my mother become tougher because of it. They are immersed in both the household and their work, with a retirement age nowhere in sight. Each day, they continue to inspire the people around them and contribute to the nation’s growing economy. I myself took after my mother and started my own business at 15 with a nudge of her encouragement.March 8 is the day for the world to celebrate international women’s day, and I choose to commemorate this day by cheering on the
March 8 is the day for the world to celebrate international women’s day, and I choose to commemorate this day by cheering on the homeworking mothers I know, and all the other homeworking mothers across the nation. These women work hard for the money, so we better treat them right.
Blueaholic is listening to: Donna Summer – She Works Hard for the Money