A new study by IFC, a member of the World Bank Group, reveals that lack of childcare support and low awareness among businesses is a key barrier to increasing women’s participation in Myanmar’s labour force. Addressing this challenge, the findings of the report aim to support Myanmar businesses by highlighting the benefits of employer-supported childcare, according to a press release.
While Myanmar’s business landscape is rapidly changing, options for quality childcare are still limited for employees. Only 7 percent of parents with preschool-age children who participated in this study use a private childcare centre, while 37 percent of parents do not use a childcare center because there is no facility near their home. Traditionally, family members are the preferred option for childcare, with 86 percent of parents relying on a relative to provide care while they are at work.
“Women continue to experience pressure to leave the workforce when they have children. As a result, a significant proportion of female employees in the private sector are delaying or foregoing childbirth to continue with their career goals. Companies assume that childcare is the sole responsibility of women, but that is not the reality anymore, and certainly not true for Myanmar,” said, Ellen Maynes, Gender Lead for IFC Myanmar. “This IFC report on Tackling Childcare gives companies access to better information so that they can provide their employees with better support.”
Traditional values are also changing, with 22 percent of parents living separately from their preschool-aged children. Three in every five parents (61 percent) expressed concern about their children’s safety, and over half (56 percent) said they worry about their children’s health. Parents also raised concerns about children’s access to new technology and social media.
This research offers business leaders an opportunity to understand the challenges faced by employees and create family-friendly workplaces. When companies support childcare, working parents are more motivated and less distracted. Supporting employees will have a positive impact on recruitment, retention, and productivity.
“Investing in childcare is not only critical for children, but for the advancement of women and men. The report recommends a range of childcare actions to businesses to address the needs of their employees and capture the business benefits,” said Ashani Chanuka Alles, Acting Country Manager for IFC Myanmar. “This would be the first step towards building awareness of employer-supported childcare and identifying tailored solutions for companies in Myanmar, paving the way for future growth”.
This report may also help Myanmar businesses address the issue of a high turnover rate, which affects recruitment, selection, training, and productivity. The available data may help them measure turnover as a business cost and inform the design of childcare support and policies.
Tackling Childcare is part of IFC’s gender program in Myanmar to address barriers to women’s workforce participation and builds upon the previous Respectful Workplace Study. The report was produced in partnership with the World Bank Group’s Umbrella Facility for Gender Equality (UFGE), a multi-donor trust fund administered by the World Bank to advance gender equality and women’s empowerment.