Honouring mothers or capitalism?

Can’t we do something for our mothers without spending money?

Irum Maqbool May 14, 2017
The writer is a psychologist with an interest in international relations

This Mother’s Day let’s celebrate those who are either not seen as potential buyers by those who, for corporate reasons, endorse the day, or are too unconventional to be part of the calculus.

First, mothers who do not live long enough to see their children. The maternal mortality rate in Pakistan is 178 deaths for 100,000 live births. Despite being a signatory to the Millennium Development Goals, Pakistan has not been to lower this trend and ranks second highest in the region.

Second, the single mothers who usually live with their relatives and face increasing levels of stress, social barriers and lack independence. They are either guilt-tripped into contributing towards domestic chores, more than their share deserves, or overcompensate for what they view as a favour and do the same anyway. They are often viewed by society as a guest who has overstayed their welcome and should display gratitude by surrendering their right to integrity, affection, humane treatment and in some cases even necessities, which are often labelled luxuries for them.

7 last minute gift ideas for Mother's Day that won't leave you broke!

Third are the working mothers. Although it is believed that most women are employed in the health and education sectors, there are also those who work in factories, offices and as domestic workers. More than half of them are forced to leave their children unattended at home or in streets, or with family members that can hardly be called caregivers. The ILO’s need assessment report: Crèche (daycare centres) for children of working women notes that Pakistan lacks any such facility for working women who are fighting poverty and hunger. Daycare centres are available for upper-class working mothers and almost all follow a corporate structure. The law, however, states that “any place where more than 10 women are working should have a daycare centre,” but for most working women such a provision will remain a pipe-dream and the chances of affording a private daycare centre an unattainable goal. The result is that their children spend their time unsupervised at home, on the streets or with neighbours; are maltreated, abused, neglected, learn inappropriate behaviour and stay hungry for hours until their mothers return. The textile industry seldom provides such facilities, whereas ISO deems it necessary.

India, on the other hand, has a government operated Integrated Child Development Services Scheme. The centres are called ‘Anganwadi’ and take a community management approach. Not only do they serve as daycare centres, if needed, they provide relief from malnutrition, immunisation and early education. Every second person who works at the facility is educated till at least matriculation level. They also provide needs-based referral services, are located in accessible areas and sometimes run as public-private partnership organisations.

Facebook introduces 'flower' reaction button to mark Mother's Day

Next, mothers who are taken for granted. Marxist-feminists observe that household work is not considered ‘real work’ and goes unnoticed and unappreciated. Hence, women are not only discriminated against in a politico-social manner they face a similar fate at home as well. Their role at home is discounted as an obligation that does not require compensation.

On Mother’s Day are we honouring mothers or consumerism? If we look at the flood of messages and advertisements of discounts on clothes, jewellery and food, it is apparent that the day has more to do with capitalism than with mothers. It is days like this that we alienate children who don’t have a mother or are raised by someone they can’t fully accept as their own. It also renews grief for those who are not mothers or do not have the luxury of indulging in such trivialities.

The only winners at the end of the day are the profiteers, the manufacturers of cheap items that know full well a flower or a piece of cloth will never symbolise one’s love for their mother. Besides, can’t we do something for our mothers without spending money?

Published in The Express Tribune, May 14th, 2017.

Like Opinion & Editorial on Facebook, follow @ETOpEd on Twitter to receive all updates on all our daily pieces.


Amar Kamal | 7 years ago | Reply Mam thats awesome .................... only winners are profit maker.... Mothers by whose name the day is celebrated still remain in the darkest and neglected conditions as ever
Replying to X

Comments are moderated and generally will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive.

For more information, please see our Comments FAQ