18 Responses

  1. Katie
    Katie October 13, 2016 at 1:45 pm

    Thanks for the post Lindy! I also found the balance difficult. I’d spent 8 years in Southeast Asia and New York before moving back to Australia to start a family. When he was almost one year old, I took one of the rare INGO jobs in Sydney. Lots of international travel and long hours. It didn’t work for me or my child. My mother’s guilt reached epic proportions and I wasn’t able to serve the organsiation as well as I could when I was single and time was my own. I am extremely lucky now to have a job which is flexible, keeps me somewhat engaged in the international space but without the travel. It’s not a job I would have chosen before, but it’s great for now.

  2. Tessa
    Tessa September 27, 2016 at 6:33 pm

    Hi Lindy, fantastic post! It’s so heartening to hear your experience, and that you’ve found a solution that works for you and your family.

    I’m currently in maternity leave with my first little one, from a development job I love that involves a fair bit of international travel. I’d be interested to know whether your workplace’s breastfeeding policies extend to practical (and financial) support for your child and carer to travel with you on work trips? And if so, do you have any insight into how common this is?

    It could make a big difference to the type of development roles women with young children could take on, with support benefitting women and their families, as well as organisations who struggle to retain their future female leaders.

    1. Lindy Kanan
      Lindy Kanan October 12, 2016 at 4:59 pm

      Hi Tessa. Thanks for the feedback. I’d be happy to share with you more details of the arrangements I have in place with my employer – perhaps offline (I have your email). I agree, better support for the needs of mums (breastfeeding infrastructure, flexible arrangements) could make a big difference. Some may be costly – such as paying for a breastfeeding child and carer to travel internationally with the mother – but there are also plenty of low cost ways to support parents with young children. For example, becoming a Breastfeeding Friendly Workplace only requires three things – space, time and support.

  3. Sara Gopalan
    Sara Gopalan September 17, 2016 at 12:17 am

    Thanks for this story. I think we need a global scan of the situation for working mom’s (and dad’s) with children, and the extent to which they are supported by development organizations/agencies. I think many organizations that claim to be rights-based, maternal-and-child-health advocates do a poor job of supporting their own employees.

  4. Sharon Bell
    Sharon Bell September 16, 2016 at 7:02 am

    Thanks for sharing your story, Lindy. I love hearing how other women have negotiated the liminal space of motherhood & involvement in the development ‘industry’. I was actively discouraged from continuing my job with a large INGO when I started my family. I am now at the other end with 17, 14 & 11 year olds, and have returned to full time study to curate a re-entry into the profession because it never left me.

    1. Lindy Kanan
      Lindy Kanan October 11, 2016 at 9:46 pm

      Hi Sharon. Sorry to hear you were discouraged from your job when you started a family. I wish I could say that times have changed, but unfortunately it remains a real issue for women. From the discussions I hear at playgroups, it’s certainly not unique to the development sector either. I guess it’s up to us to keep advocating, in the hope that our daughters don’t face the same discrimination. Best of luck with the studies and your re-entry!

  5. Sara Webb
    Sara Webb September 15, 2016 at 10:21 am

    Hi Lindy… great post, and it’s lovely to hear that you have found rewarding work in Canberra since you left the TVET family! I hope all continues to go well for you. 🙂

    1. Lindy Kanan
      Lindy Kanan September 16, 2016 at 10:26 am

      Thanks Sara! You are living proof that being an engaged parent and doing meaningful development work doesn’t have to be mutually exclusive.

  6. Sarah Chapman
    Sarah Chapman September 14, 2016 at 6:53 pm

    Great blog Lindy! It’s been posted twice on my Facebook timeline 😆

    1. Lindy Kanan
      Lindy Kanan September 14, 2016 at 9:17 pm

      Thanks Sarah. Really, heartfelt thanks to you and the Australian Breastfeeding Association who have been an integral part of my journey as a breastfeeding development mum!

  7. Tofail Ahamed
    Tofail Ahamed September 14, 2016 at 1:24 pm

    Excellent lesson learned!

    It’s a complete reflection report of your life. I know little about you. This realization and analytical thought will help you discover your hidden potentialities.

    Go ahead Lindy.
    All the way best of luck.

    1. Lindy Kanan
      Lindy Kanan September 14, 2016 at 9:13 pm

      Thank you Tofail.

  8. Jane Williamson
    Jane Williamson September 14, 2016 at 12:16 pm

    Hi Lindy, wow fascinating to read that. I did not realise that you had to cut short your Vanuatu assignment due to pregnancy, how awful. I am a single parent by design – it’s always been just me and my son. My first assignment after he was born was to Cox’s Bazar in Bangladesh (where I met you!) and arriving there on my own with a small baby and trying to set up house, child-care and start a new job all essentially in the same week was the hardest experience of my life. I would not wish it on anyone and I think that the UN can do much better to make landings like that easier. The UN gave me plenty of settling money, but very little actual practical help and no TIME to adjust.

    However, I do fantastically appreciate being able to have my baby and young toddler in a country where child care is affordable. I don’t envy my sisters in Sydney who are faced with waiting lists and stupendous costs for child care if they want to continue work, not to even GO to the high cost of living.

    I eventually took a year out and bummed around in Thailand with my two year old son. One of the best years of my life.

    In my line of work (UNHCR), most of the best and most interesting work is in places I just can’t go – conflict areas or emergencies where being on duty 24/7 is the expected norm. I can’t do it. So I’ve been ‘getting away’ with assignments in quiet, family friendly places. Now my son is 6 years old and I further constrained – he needs to go to school in English which pretty much restricts us to capitals. With parents at home who are not getting any younger, the call to come home and be with family (as so many refugees would give anything to do) is getting stronger. Might be seeing more of you in the near future!!!

    PS: A few months ago, one of my mummy friends posted how proud she was that her six year old boy traveled unaccompanied to visit his grandma in Melbourne. When I read that I was so impressed by the bravery of that boy, but I also realized that I have pretty much never traveled on a plane without my son, forget about my son travelling without me. Travel is the real sticking point for me – I just can’t bring myself to leave my son with a nanny for a week while I swan off to Geneva or Bangkok or wherever. So my place in my chosen profession does feel quite precarious. What kind of humanitarian professional can’t travel anywhere? But I’m still happy and somehow I manage to keep doing what I love best.

    1. Lindy Kanan
      Lindy Kanan September 14, 2016 at 9:35 pm

      Thanks so much for sharing you experience Jane. Your comment “What kind of humanitarian professional can’t travel anywhere?” really struck a cord with me. I think we’re definitely too hard on ourselves sometimes though!

  9. Anthony Swan
    Anthony Swan September 14, 2016 at 10:16 am

    Captivating blog. Thanks Lindy.

    1. Lindy Kanan
      Lindy Kanan September 14, 2016 at 9:00 pm

      Thanks Tony. Glad you liked it!

  10. Abigail Spiar
    Abigail Spiar September 14, 2016 at 10:09 am

    Thank you for this honest and inspiring article.

    1. Lindy Kanan
      Lindy Kanan September 14, 2016 at 9:12 pm

      Thanks Abigail. Where there’s a will there’s a way!

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