How can women journalists achieve a healthy work-life balance?

As we mark International Women's Day 2009, women throughout the world are leveraging their power as leaders in journalism, and paving the way for a future where girls feel empowered to join the profession.   

But with progress comes a host of challenges, including that of balancing community and family life with the demands of a stressful and time consuming profession.

For women who are also mothers, it is often difficult to cover news after hours or travel for a story, but, afraid of losing their jobs, women journalists often feel they must forego their responsibilities at home to excel in their careers. Such demands also trigger problems with spouses.

If you have faced challenges in your attempts to balance your life at home with your responsibilities at work, please share your experiences, as well as any tips you have for women journalists around the world facing similar issues.

I have been in Journalism for

I have been in Journalism for 20 years. Precisely in August 2009, I will clock 20years in the profession. I wish to state that I never experience any peculiar challenge in combining my home with my profession. So, I advice women across the world to be committed to making their homes work. Women should realise that the job must not be placed above the home. Without a home, no one can have the stability of mind to do the job. I disagree with women calling on men to make the same level of sacrifice for their homes. This is wrong. The woman has more emotional and mental capabilities to manage the homes better than the man. Journalism, as a profession is a platform on which we watch the ills within our societies and project them to the reading or viewing world. What images then should the world 'watch' in our lives when our homes collapse, our children are loose and lack moral values; and worst of all, our husbands suffer? Female Journalists, brace up and sit tight. Keep your homes, career or not, make the best of your individual lives. Joke Kujenya, Senior Journalist, The Nation Newspapers, Media Mentors, Lagos, Nigeria.

I started off as a journalist

I started off as a journalist in the mid-'80s in India when women were still a rarity in newsrooms here. My parents being very conservative, they were dead against my career choice. However, as I continued to win a lot of accolades for my work, slogging day in and out, the carping stopped, although they did not quite reconcile themselves to my night shifts. But then, I got married and my husband got transferred out into another metropolitan city; I had to start from scratch rebuiidng my career. It meant waking up at crack of dawn, cooking for the day since one did not know when my day would end. With my husband touring most of the time, there was hardly any help I could ever get from him. Besides, he had been trained to think that a wife was meant to serve and cater to his needs alone.

Just as things started looking up, I ended up pregnant. But the stress at work and at home, saw me miscarry. Rather than help me out, everyone blamed me for not having been careful. The next time I got pregnant, I decided to opt out; my life was too precious to suffer another miscarriage. But I could not return to work until my daughter was nearly five years of age. It was frustrating to have to work in positions far lower than those whom one started off with; and excelled beyond.
I am now working from home,since it is far less taxing. Besides, the loss of seniority does not rankle quite as much. But travelling on work means keeping track of home priorities, my daughter's exams and my husband's schedule. I am considered an excellent mother and wife by friends, but I know how frustrating it is when one sees one's batchmates reach top positions in the editorial hierarchy; while all my achievements lie canned. My family may seem very happy with me since I let my ambitions take a secondary position to their needs; but I am as unhappy as ever.

My husband is far more accomodative today than initially; I wish he had been so earlier.

I would advise all women journalists to insist on the whole-hearted co-operation of the spouse in child-rearing and household activities. A woman ought to stick on to her job, and fulfill her ambitions as much as any man does. Why kill your ambitions for the sake of others? It will bring you no gratitude; if anything,it will leave you frustrated.

I am a female Journalist and

I am a female Journalist and have found that fitting work into your life or life into work is all about successful juggling. I spent quite some time as the senior journalist for a small town newspaper that had only essential staff and in the time i worked with them, i watched my entire life slip away from me. Needless to say i left that job for something more appropriate for me and my needs; i do hear that the person who has taken over the role is happy with the needs and requirements. I don't see why this question was simply aimed at women, perhaps because when my husband works late i never care... ( i know this is part and parcel of his job) but often when i must appear at an evening event in my best dress my husband becomes concerned that he may play only second best to a job i love, and perhaps this is the issue for families. Journalism is an interesting job that will always have you on your toes, how you juggle that with living a healthy lifestyle is up to you.

It is a challenge everyday.

It is a challenge everyday. Most days I succeed and sometimes i fail, but am constantly trying to bring balance to my life, which lately has been a crazy combinations of all sorts of activities from dropping off kids to schools, interviewing politicians and digging into stories, AND keeping my husband happy enough to support my career choices. My life is hectic, and sometimes it is too tyring, but i wouldn't have it any other way, the truth is, i don't want to give anything up, i want to have a family, and to achieve my professional ambitions...I make compromises everyday, i have a guilt feeling towards the kids all the time, but I know I am trying my best to be a good mother to them, without giving up my passion towards journalism. It is not a job, it is who I am, and who I was when I became a wife, and then a mother. Thanks for raising this subject, it's good to remember we're not alone.a.

What a timely topic for me.

What a timely topic for me. Im struggling with that balance right now. In fact my fiancee has even called off our wedding and is probably thinking twice about committing himself to a woman of a journalist like me. There is a costant fear that I will find him gone one of this days. he has also become a perenial cheat. However, I have learnt to appreciate my job. I tell myself that when we met eight years ago while at university, he must have known where I was headed. I got a job, he got along confortably and now have two children. Unfortunately new developments often come with challenges. My man now wants the typical wife, mother at home when he returns and when he feels like you should be home. But given that I earn a salary, no employer will allow this. Well, I have learnt to turn a deaf ear and do what I feel is right, and enjoy myself. I work hard five days a week, but I also squeeze myself an hour in the health club to cool off stress. I also devote the weekend to family. You cant get me out of home on a starday and sunday. Its time with my kids. i often take them out. I also ensure that I spoil them alittle with some fancy life's luxuries-from food, presents... to try to make my absence worth. Above all, I do what i do best. I also minimise travel but take it once in a while to cool off. Im still torn though about the independent direction Im taking though because my spouse has chosen to stay aloof, and indifferent. Consequently Im considering going back to freelance, to study to switch proffessins or find a PR job. I always say a prayer and ask God to show me the right direction. I hate to struggle with life. I love it peaceful-alone or with someone. Nonetheless, I've managed to survive because of my two sisters. because I support them given that we are orphans, they have been kind to show their appreciation by adoring my kids. As long as they are home, my heart is settled. Im forever indebted to them. becaus eof them, I have managed to be focussed and determined. I agree with my colleagues, we need a hand here and there to help with home. If its not our husbands, some have been lucky to have good inlaws. But I have been blessed to have lovely sisters. they have been my angels given the unreliability of maids.

I am working as a reporter

I am working as a reporter with a Bangladeshi daily newspaper for the past six and half years. I find hard to work with this media organization that fired at least 10 staffs most of them were female and family (people easily can imagine that being a Bangladeshi women how many job and responsibilities has to take). So most of time I feel very sad and frustrated when i did not get any cooperation from office as well as from family members. No one consider me as a 'human being'. Everyone think 'I have ten hands, twenty legs and 1000gigabite memory on my brain.

I did not chance to share my pains that starts from very beginning of my career. From this forum- i would like to share those pains.

After complete my graduation and post graduation degrees on mass communication and journalism from University of Dhaka, the largest public university in Bangladesh. I joined to this newspaper that also just started its journey. First, my boss (Chief Reporter) start mentally torture and always said that 'being a good journalists, there is no need to study on journalism' (as he could not get chance to study on that subject and even did not get chance to this public university). It gives me pain and i become frustrated that he always give me very bad and less important assignment and events that hardly get place at my newspaper page.

I feel very sad, I start to looking forward to work alone and i wrote some exclusive stories on different issues- that was published and some of them yet not published in newspaper, so then I tried to wrote for other newspaper by using different names.

Second, I did not nominated by my bosses to go abroad for covering any international events, participate any journalist's training, workshop or any other pleasure tour. But this is very common that most of my male colleagues visited different countries as part of their work (reword from editor, news-editor). And most interesting thing is that three of my female colleagues also get nominations to participate different international programs, trainings, scholarships. But these female colleagues were either relatives of editor, or newspaper owners. So, I become more frustrated over such incidents that should not be practiced in any good organization.

more interesting thing is that-- after a long path (about three years) I am now considered as 'little good' reporter and office give me a beat to cover health, women and children. But, when any international tour or trips organizer wants nominations of reporter's name who cover the health, women or children..............surprisingly my bosses nominate those name who did not cover the area. One day i went to one my boss and asked about the process to get the nominations. he laughed and said that your are a female---so, how we can send u to abroad.......oh.,God I feel soo sad and took a decision to leave the media.

But I did not leave the job as I need the job for money!!!!!!

Finally, my reports does not published with prominent though these are very much important for our country. It's just for a 'female' .

Another big things is that- those female colleagues are working very nicely, who entertain our bosses. this all are really frustrating for female journalists of my country and of course there are some exception which should not be example!!!

Theses all are related to my career and family part is also another sad tale of any female worker in Bangladesh. No female worker in Bangladesh hardly get cooperation from family especially from the male family members. If I want cooperation from my husband------he straight tell me to leave the job. and i did not seek any cooperation from other family members from my horrible experience.

I have two kids (seven years old daughter and eight months old son). I have to manage all the things related to my child as well as other affairs related to kitchen, babies care givers.

And I always feel i am running running and only running in a thousands mile runway. this never stop.

It's so beautiful

It's so beautiful question. I've passed majority part my life as a journalist. So I have to try hard to balance my life. Because there're much deviated beliefs in Myanmar as other eastern countries. As the same time I'm a medical doctor too and so so hardily for me. In East, however and whatever they told, role of female is still at back, especially in Myanmar. I can belief that female is female and SHE must role as a lady but all males are placing us at inappropriate place. We must have right place and right role, i.e. not back role but appropriate role. I'm balancing my life nearly daily. I could achieve by understanding environment &surrounding condition and position. I have to control my emotion towards others. Then I improve my talent, knowledge and skill. The most important thing for all lady-journalists is to create, maintain and care her/their outer appearence such as behavior, clothing, manner and style. So We have To Be Stylished. We Have To Improve Our Skills. Then We Can Gain Balance and Achievements in Work and also at Home.


Sincerely speaking,

Sincerely speaking, journalism as the nature is, runs round the clock. As a journlist,though i am a man, i could be called up at any given time to cover or follow up a story.So anybody going into the field of jourmalism, be it man or woman, should therefore be ready to face the challenges involved.However, concessions should be given to women journalists, in their various employs, exempting them from depertments or units, as the case may be, that would warrant them to work late. Thank you.

I practiced as a female

I practiced as a female journalist in Ghana for 13 years whithin which I got married and had two Children now aged 8 and 5. It was very difficult especially when my children were growing up and started acomplaining about my late arrival at home. I could do with my husbands complaints but could not help feeling guilty when my kids were not enjoying meals cooked by their mother nor seeing her before going to bed. sometimes I woke up from bed when they had already left for school. Again, As I got closer to 40 years, I started feeling very tired and even miscarried a pregnancy. I opted for a Public Relations Job where I have been for the past 15 months. I am not enjoying it although I see my kids every day before they go to bed an dtravel less often. But my miss my newsroom and plan to return. I miss the international travels and the fact that yopu say and write whatever you want without much fear and favour, I miss that freedom to ask questions nad take on the powers taht be. I guess 13 years is too long ot forget too soon.

I am a 40-year-old mother of

I am a 40-year-old mother of four and I've been working as a journalist for the past nine years. have been very fortunate to find work that doesn't involve shifts. I have frequently had to stay late at work to get the job done, but that happens in all professions. And I travel very frequently (once a month or every two months for about a week). I make this up to the children by making sure that weekends are entirely for them and whenever humanly possible by getting home in the evenings at a reasonable time. Basically, as long as I'm in the country, evenings and weekends are for the children. When my children were at the ages of being older than babies/infants but younger than teens, it was easier to spend less time at home. They didn't seem to need me as much. Now that I have two teen-aged girls I am needing to dedicate more time to them again. I have now gone freelance so that my time is more flexible and so I can choose what jobs to take on and what jobs not to. It's a delicate balance. But one that can be done. And it's always helpful to have a husband and an extended family (parents, in-laws, and sisters especially) who can provide moral support to your career path in addition to actual support in terms of child-care when it's needed.

After a years of an "amazing"

After a years of an "amazing" experience, with a more than a good will to achieve normal life,I stopped to work as a journalist, broke my marriage and decided to change a job. I am very unhappy because of all of that. I share now my life with my wonderful daughter who get her name Milena, like Milena Jasenska... Maybe it was a choice, women like Milena J. always fascinated me... Thank you for this topic!

Why is this a question for

Why is this a question for women only? Men have the right (and obligation) to be engaged parents as well, and the work-life balance question is an issue for both parents in a family. Men suffer too when they are absent from their children's and spouse's lives because of insane work hours in any profession.

Hi, I fall into this category

Hi, I fall into this category of women! The simple truth is that every woman must learn to plan and appropriate her time to balance the job and the homefront. I learnt to cook and refrigerate food to last not less than a week, to include my children in my job, taking them along where possible especially durring school breaks. My Mother in law was also a wonderful help - so ladies stop fighting the Mother in law as they could be very useful. For my husband who is the no 1 baby, i learnt how to coddle, massage his ego and make him happy within the little time i had - basicaly you have to make him feel like a KING. The truth is as a working broadcast journalist cum mother, you have no life!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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