Women are known to be most dynamic and versatile around the world. They get molded easily into various forms starting from being a daughter, sister, wife, mother, friend and the list goes on. Every girl while growing has dreams and ambitions, they start silly such as wanting to be a princess but change into more realistic and strong thoughts with passing time & some actually end up becoming princesses too. Most reach the pinnacle of success while some let go of their ambitions and dreams. However, the journey of every woman is different but always challenging. It takes a big turn as women step into the world of a teenager, a young lady, marriage, motherhood and so on.
Marriage makes you stronger and helps you grow as a women.
The first major leap is marriage in itself. You are out of the protective shelter of your parent’s home and you learn to deal with things on your own. The change is huge. Some women cut their wings here itself, and some continue to conquer skies. It all depends on the support of family members & surrounding environment. As you start to settle in the new phase, life starts to take big leaps.
The next major leap is motherhood. This phase is beautiful, it helps you grow and bring out the qualities in you that you thought you never had. It teaches you to keep calm, to smile more – to love even more. When we talk all about the goody goodness of being a mother, a wife and having professional goals, we tend to forget the dark side of it.
Being an Indian women we are raised to sacrifice, we are raised to keep our feelings at bay and do what is best for the family. This thought that is instilled in us from the very beginning makes it the reason why we find it so difficult to be a working women or a working mother.
We are taught to think that men are bread earners while women are supposed to nurture the family, raise children and look after the elders. Even in times like today when most women do step out and have a professional life, the moment they get back home from work they magically flip a switch a turn from a fierce professional to a home maker, worried about the food that needs to be cooked, the kids and if the grocery is in order. Whereas when most men enter homes, they lounge on a sofa watching their favorite show.
All these changes makes me wonder – why is this behavior considered normal? It’s not like men have any less responsibility. Why should the women be the sole person responsible for keeping the house in order?
When we dig further into this, it becomes clear that this behavior is more on the cultural end. As Indians we don’t let our sons enter kitchen or take up house related duties while we teach our daughters from a very young age to pick up after themselves. With the new-age mothers, times are now beginning to change. Women are often the ones who set a subconscious & conscious ground rule in the house. Mothers should teach the values of being a responsible individual irrespective of the child’s gender. It’s a thought we must inculcate in our self and our families from the very beginning.
With all the women power we have and so many families providing good education to their daughters, India still ranks at the bottom for number of working professionals women. This is really disturbing. Don’t we all know of many women who hold several degrees, master’s degrees and even a doctorate and are highly skillful but have chosen to become a “stay-at-home mum”, being a stay at home mum is no less of a challenging task & it is as respectable & important as a working mother. But it’s disturbing to know that most of these women don’t opt to be stay-home-mother out of choice but out of necessity so that they can fulfill their duties as a wife, a mother and a care giver.
Sounds crazy right?
With “nuclear family” on trend, mothers find no support to raise children forcing them to give up their dream or if they do wish to follow it, it has to be at the cost of leaving their little ones with a nanny/care-taker And don’t you forget for one second the world doesn’t criticize them of choosing this path for a better life and future.
Suggested Read : Millennial Girls: Apps Every Girl Should Have On Her Phone
Here are some professional day to day challenges faced by Indian working women:
Discrimination at Workplace
This is something that 9 out of 10 Indian women face. People look down upon women who leave early from their workplace or work from home. It’s also common for women to be looked upon as though they are not good enough at their duties because their mind may be occupied with their other responsibilities. If she leaves early from work, she is good for nothing. If she leaves at the exact stroke of time when her duty ends, she is good for nothing. It doesn’t matter that she may be working later at night to get her job done before she steps into work the next day.
Promotions are mostly given to the other gender for the above reason as a female manager or lead might not be as capable to handle deadlines as a male would. This is discouraging to the hardworking goal oriented women who wants to make it out there in the corporate world.
Lack of Crèches or Flexible Working Hours in Companies
There are very few companies in India who have flexible working hours or daycare / crèche facilities in the office premises. As a result, there is constant pressure on woman and so many end up quitting their jobs after having children.
Job Options with Restricted Travel and Fixed Timings Are limited
Women in India filter the jobs based on timings, shifts and travel. Indian women prefer a teaching job which makes it easier to coordinate with the child’s school schedule. She may also opt for 9 to 6 jobs as night shifts or any other shifts may affect the family and disturb the routine.
Nowadays, woman opt for sales role or consultant roles in various industries be it IT or non- IT, the need to travel within India or out of India has become very common. However, most of the times as a woman we end up refusing the travel assignment and this creates friction in the company and as a result the career growth is hampered by all these restrictions. This overall makes women objectifying.
Challenges women face on a personal level
The Conditioning of Indian Woman
Most Indian woman have a very strong “maternal instinct” which compels her to quit the workforce and be with her children full-time. They grow up with the mindset that they are responsible for taking care of their family and kids after marriage and they feel things will not move without them.
There are instances when I am in at work and as my day starts to come to an end, my mental clock counts every minute and second and I keep wondering when I can finish this work so that I can rush home to my child. As I get delayed, I feel the pinch of guilt and wonder if I am a selfish mother who is neglecting her child. This is very common form of guilt we all face and also one of the hardest to deal with.
Indian women are constantly judged right from the time they get married. She is constantly judged for the choices she makes, when she should be having kids, how many kids should she have and how she should be taking care of them. Women who refuse to follow the set rules are termed as selfish or arrogant. She is judged for pursuing her career after the kids are born, even in educated households.
Lack of Help At Home or Availability of a Reliable Nanny
Child care is very important not only when the child is small, but the problem grows as the child starts to grow. The simple coordination of picking up the child from school or from the bus-stop becomes a great task. The options are to appoint a nanny at home who would pick up the child, feed him taking care of him and tend to his needs.
The next option is sending the child to “after school daycare”. Now this is fairly a new term and many of us may not have even heard of it. It is the concept of taking care of the child after school hours. However, the last option may fail as all cities in India have not yet adopted the concept of daycare or crèche. Moreover, these day-cares mint money by asking a huge amount for taking care of the child. Not to forget, getting a sincere and dedicated nanny is even a tougher task and on top of it, we are constantly worried, if the child has reached home and is in safe hands. In recent past, there were several incidents of nannies / maids abusing and physically torturing the child at home and even kidnapping the child. All these issues traumatize us mentally and force the Indian women to be at home and ensure that the child is safe with her.
Suggested Download : Satark India – Women’s Safety App
Restrictions from Family or Spouse
Being an Indian women I am always amazed by how the responsibility of the “house” is always put on the women’s shoulders. Making sure the family gets its each meal freshly cooked and served hot is a top priority. Such ridiculous and unnecessary demands leads women to put their goals and careers at a back seat and take up the a full-time job of a home-maker as that’s what women are supposed to do. With such kind of a mentality in the society, how can a well-educated Indian women pursue her career? Their day begins and ends with making sure everyone is looked after and their demands are met.
Indian Working Mother – A Superwoman
Instead of splitting the task & responsibility among each other, men put the load on the women and then call them the “Superwomen”. These tags are nothing but a compensation reward or recognition a man thinks a women deserves.
My friends who are home-makers always say “we do our duties, but I salute you because you do your duties as well as do your job. A double shift”.
When it comes to the child’s health, we wake up in the early hours to prepare nutritious lunches for the kids, as food is the last thing we would compromise on. Now, be it PTM or annual day function or a sports event or any science events, dance classes, sports classes, drawing class and the list goes on, the working mother in india is present everywhere and not to forget the office work. If that was not enough, all the social events like birthday parties, family wedding, house warming ceremony etc., you are supposed to be present always and bunking any one of these crucial events would make you an irresponsible mother who keeps work above everything else.
I, being a Indian working mother myself, have faced some of these issues in the past and still face some every day. However, we need to tune ourselves to a better thought process as when the child grows up they would love to see an independent mother whom they could really look up to. They would feel proud of their mother who despite hardships has achieved a lot and has never given up despite hurdles.
As an Indian mother, working professional and a dedicated wife we will always get caught in the trap of work-life balance and it will continue to be an ongoing challenge. The work-life balance strategy offers a variety of means to reduce stress levels and increase job satisfaction. Any form of recreational activity like yoga, gardening, meditation, fitness activity or pursuing a hobby can be a great way to have some me-time and also relax the tension. As the society progresses day by day the trouble of the Indian working women will ease.