By: Asma Al-Mohattwari
Working women can experience many difficulties in their daily lives. However, during Ramadan they face greater hardships as a result of pressing time constraints. Other changes that come with Ramadan often serve to make life yet more difficult for them.
Ramadan requires that working women effectively organize and manage their time. They will tend to exert double the normal effort during the days and nights of Ramadan alike. With added fatigue from working, some women will be unable to achieve a necessary balance during Ramadan.
Some wives cast the family responsibilities on servants, while others, if they are able, will prefer to have food in restaurants and in Ramadan tents.
Bushra Al-Ameri gave the National Yemen an abstract of her life during Ramadan. She is a journalist, is married, and has three children. She said the most difficult time is when she has more than one work-related task at hand, with a newspaper report which must be accomplished in two or three hours. At the same time, she finds herself busy with her children, family and friends.
“Sometimes I apologize, and drop out on everyone for long periods of time,” she said.
Many times, Bushra feels that she doesn’t meet her family’s needs: “Sometimes, my children sleep without having their food. That makes me so sad and I try my best to avoid it the next time, but sometimes work circumstances force me to not be fair to them,” she said.
During Ramadan, she has more time to devote to them because of a diminished workload. And rather than simply watch television series, she does work.
“I try very hard during Ramadan to give my time to my home and my family and I try to be a good housewife who does all the needed work and cares for her family’s comfort, cleans the house, and re-arranges and decorates things for Eid,” she added.
According to Bushra, the most difficult thing during Ramadan is earning enough income, as both she and her husband experience similar work stagnation during the holy month.
She also said her work affects her relations with family and friends. During Ramadan, she tries her best to compensate them during Eid by visiting, apologizing and giving gifts.
Regarding food and cooking, Bushra said she sometimes buys from a restaurant, but that she often cooks in the early morning or cooks a large meal to last for multiple days.
Among working women, views regarding work and home during Ramadan vary. Ebtisam, a company employee who is married and has children, said Ramadan is yet another month and wondered aloud why women should stop cooking in its midst. In her opinion, there is an enough time to work and prepare food.
“I worked 12 years ago, and when I got back home, I set up lunch for my family with the help of a maid; for Ramadan, I would come back at three o’clock in the afternoon and set up the food in the best way possible – because there is enough time for that,” she said.
Yet some working women have different ideas and have said that if the hardships of the holy month of Ramadan include hunger and thirst, the situation is quite different for working women, who not only suffer the hardships of fasting or career obligations, but also have to perform household chores, which tend to double during Ramadan.
Nadia, a secretary, said that although she spends all her days at work during Ramadan, her responsibilities don’t end there.
“Although I’m single, I take responsibility for the house. I divide my time between workdays and housework, which forces me to work to Fajr. But the most difficult days are those in which we prepare large meals,” she said.
While some husbands understand their wives’ circumstances, others do not. Ali Ahmad is married and his wife works. He said his wife does her best to be fair both to her family and to her job but that she doesn’t have time to cook all the Ramadan dishes, which compels him to go to his parents’ house and eat there.
Unlike Ali, a man named Khaled has a problem with his wife because she doesn’t accept relatives’ invitations and also refuses to receive relatives in her house during Ramadan because she has limited time to do so.
In the end, Ebtisam said if there is good planning and time organization during Ramadan, everything will be okay. She advised all women to plan according to their own circumstances and for them to not listen to friends’ and relatives’ experiences, as they simply may not apply to their own situations.