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Why I Cannot Be An 'Equal' At Home

21/03/2016 8:11 AM IST | Updated 15/07/2016 8:26 AM IST
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Nothing puts me off more than when homemakers say "I don't work" when they're asked what they do. Most women I come across were raised to be independent and expected to work outside the house. Many of these women did do exactly that and contributed to the finances of the family until they had a child. Once the child arrived, priorities changed and for various reasons they decided to quit their jobs. But does that really mean they don't work? Should the great sacrifice of quitting a job (knowing that this may change their prospects forever) to do other kinds of unpaid work be undermined? Must women who have to or choose to quit their jobs always live under the burden of being judged? Is housework and looking after a child less important in the entire scheme of things in life? The answer is clearly a BIG FAT NO.

I guess we women took the depiction of Indian gods and goddesses with multiple hands a bit more seriously than men.

The problem is with us women. We expect too much from ourselves. A woman who works at home is these days judged for 'not working'. If she does go out to work then she finds herself reeling under the pressure of ensuring her home and family do not suffer. I'd say we women ourselves are responsible for building the pressure, and our mothers play a part too. Why mothers? Because they never made us, children, realise how important and tiring a homemaker's job is.

I am a young mother and entrepreneur, and I fight an internal battle all the time. Will I be a better mom today or will I be a better colleague, or a better wife, or a better daughter-in-law, or a better manager? I realize each day, no matter what I choose, I will need to live with the opportunity cost of what I don't do. While I feel the need to break the stereotype and do my job in office well, it is blasphemous for me to skip the household chores or neglect family--or at least I feel so. While I need to be an equal to men at work, I cannot be an equal at home and sit with my feet up when I reach home tired. This is primarily because I cannot fight the basic conditioning which all girls are made to grow up with--that she has to be a superwoman, someone who must multitask on 20 things at one go. I guess we women took the depiction of Indian gods and goddesses with multiple hands a bit more seriously than men.

As Indira Nooyi said in an interview, it's high time women stopped wanting to have it all. It's time we tried to feel content with what we have...

While my internal battle continues to grow, I am lucky that I have a very supportive family. Nevertheless, I realize that raising a family is no joke, and women who work at home really need to rough it out just as those who do so outside must. The child doesn't raise him/herself. In fact, from feeding to potty training, to playing, completing the other household chores, everything needs to be done, and NO--the maid doesn't and cannot do it all. It's saddening that women attach self worth to how much currency they earn, whereas our KRA is exceptionally wide. Oh yes, we have a never-ending job description.

Just because a woman is not contributing to the household income doesn't mean she isn't contributing at all. It's just that economists need to put their wits together to figure out how to measure the work a homemaker does (they're making efforts in that direction already).

As Indira Nooyi said in an interview, it's high time women stopped wanting to have it all. It's time we tried to feel content with what we have and see how far we have come. It's not easy being a woman anyway, so let's stop judging each other and be selective about the things we expect from ourselves.

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