Gender Roles in India – Work, Home, Life Balanced Enough?
When the world entered into the era of medieval age, who knew that women would make this far to reaching nearly all sectors, which only men dominated once? It is quite evident that slowly and steadily, yet definitely Indians have started making progress in regard to their women’s career. But the thing is still far behind if we compare ourselves from developed countries. Now, don’t get me wrong on this. Comparisons are human tendencies and we more often compare ourselves with those at better positions, so as to evaluate how far we have reached. The issues don’t only prevail in India but overseas as well but there is still a difference in the mindsets when we talk about generalized scenario.
Women and their new responsibilities
Once women get married, they are not allowed to follow a stable career path because of countless new responsibilities. This is irrespective of their educational qualifications/work experience they hold. Women are more likely taking a long break or perhaps quitting their jobs, despite of getting promoted, salary hikes, or other perks of motivation. This is because time and again they are expected to prove their worth in their family that they are not being selfish. They are labelled as being selfish if they do not match their family needs, such a child-care, cooking and other household chores.
Our society has moved forward to make their girls educated but gave them role of being a “superwoman” or “supermom”. Those who better manage their work, home and life, are termed with such words, and others simply hesitate asking for more. Even women are so used to this kind of upbringing, they never (try to) know their rights as a human being. Our society has not yet taught its boys to sometimes take household responsibilities and lessen their women’s burden, because the world is rapidly changing and they might need to use their skills, if their women is not there. And here in this particular context I mean all kinds of women, whether they are their mothers, sisters, wives and/or daughters. There are countless women across the country who value themselves by the statuses their husband holds. They too believe that they do not need to step out of home, forget about managing work-life balance.
Another point is, most people believe that they educate their daughters, not only to find an “eligible” match, but also to make them ready tackling unwelcome financial crises. Here is the thing! We get educated so that we get deserving jobs and it is a continual process. Once you quit it, everything seems to an end. There are cases that girls do persue for engineering, and masters but never get a job, nor do their parents make it an issue. If they find a job through on/off campus placement drives, they do not continue because of infinite reasons.
If you start doing job and quit in the middle, the work experience goes in vein, even if you served an industry for like 5 to 10 years. Yes, it also depends on your level of confidence, years of gap you had, and your own grasping power to pick up everything you once did fluently. But there are more challenges because most people will treat you as a fresher. It requires a kind of cooperation, that most women do not find once they return back. If you never had a job once you completed your education, the struggles are even harder, because companies prefer young and single candidates and you will be cornered.
The work place would seem havoc to you, and so does your home management. This would obviously bring-in emotional turmoil, especially if you also deal with non-cooperative husband and/or in-laws.
Household chores and gender roles
Everyone knows whether you are a working woman or a homemaker, you have to take responsibilities of cooking, cleaning and taking care of children. I have went through countless graphical images/videos to respect women, circulating across the social media, explaining that they are not technically “free”. They do this ALL the time. It does not matter whether (or not) they earn a handsome amount of money, and get tired as much as their husbands.
Most people in the present generation would not support this idea simply because they consider these tasks being meant only for women. Technically speaking both candidates are companions, sharing the same house, eating the same food, have children that belong to them both, whether biologically reproduced or adopted. I am not asking men to do everything, because I do not believe in men-hating campaign. It is not feminism, that people in our society have (mis)interpreted in the recent years. But at least both could divide certain work so as to minimize the workload a woman has to undergo on routine basis, and give her a mental relief. Trust me, they simply ask to be treated as humans!
Keeping the mindset at present that very much prevailed over 50 years back would not work now. My grandfather thinks that it is the job of women to sit at home, do miscellaneous stuffs, teach children, especially the girls certain “manners”, because men go out to “work”. My grandmother is still bound to work, despite of the fact she is not physically fit herself. And by speaking work, I mean to convey even the minutest task such as – putting toothpaste on her husband’s brush, bringing breakfast/lunch/dinner, taking out his clothes he has to wear after taking bath, doing laundry, packing his bag when he is set to travel to a different city, etc. He could do certain tasks by himself but because of the bringing up by his mother back in the 1940s, it was not possible.
If you think that young children (boys) won’t learn manners or won’t admire their wives who are likely working in the coming decades, then you are wrong. Statistics show that boys who observe their mothers going out to work and earn are more likely supporting their future wives to make a stable career. Surprised? Yes, there are cases of neglected childhoods, but this entirely depends on how parents treat their children. There are cases of housewives who did not take care of children appropriately, and weren’t supporting them in need, AND there are also the cases in which working moms supported their children with much needed emotional help. This has nothing to do with what women choose to do. Most children get more attached to either of the parents. If it has to do with working or not working, then how come some children find themselves closer to dads and not moms?
Challenges in the organization that impact an individual personally
Most people struggle with work-life balance and it does not matter if an individual is a man or a woman. Since women get maternity leaves and flexible shifts post childbirth, men are more loaded with work. Women, on the other hand, looked down upon and considered not serious enough for their career growth. So, you can imagine the level of stress a woman undergoes since they have to prove their worth everywhere.
Yes, there are revised norms for maternity leaves and flexible working hours, so as to make the work culture more employee friendly. But the thing is, only multi-national companies have actually executed these protocols (or not!), which do not hold much percentage. Most firms where men and women work are small-scale to medium sectors where most work force find themselves overly stressed out of physical and mental burden. People are not even given their much deserved basic wages on time, forget about getting paid for extra working hours, and other stuffs. If a person is not given the much deserving rights at workplace, (s)he will end up with more burden post reaching the house as well.
People simply ask to have some level of comfort so that they could better spend time at home as well. Now by spending time it could not be just doing something, but also sitting and chatting with your spouse, like how their day went. They may also talk while doing specific tasks together at home.
Getting a job and a stable career are two different aspects. Most women in India do not even have jobs. Getting a job is to seek a work and get paid for it. One could be a maid, or a laborer, or a teacher, or an IPS officer. Having a career refers to seek better work experience, get a salary hike, and promoted, based on their educational qualifications and contribution in an organization. This makes a difference in their mindset that they are valued in their work environment.
Instead of asking your daughter-in-law to prove her worth by her meals-making talent, you as a woman, must support her in her career as much as you do to your own son. It is quite difficult to bring the change that soon. But we can still take little efforts during the bringing up of our children and teach them that both sons and daughters are of equal weightage. We start this by teaching our sons all the household chores that we so desperately teach our daughters. There is no such thing like “manly” or “girly”, except in our own heads and this needs to stop!