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Have we really moved on from our social expectations of women – that they play their traditional role of homemaker despite working outside home?
In the last few decades India has seen a shift of women from homes to work spaces. Quite a few women are in high paying corporate jobs at par with men in urban settings and also financially contributing to their household.
Can we see this as liberation of women? Are working women especially in urban areas any better than their non-employed counterparts?
I would answer this with a NO. If one has grown up around working women either their mothers or aunts it would not be very difficult to recollect how they rushed to their office after tending to all the work at home, came back from the office and got back to tending to the family. And if they could not do any work at home there would be so much of guilt about not being able to play their part.
It would not be an exaggeration to say that things have not changed very much since then. I still see my cousins, my sister and my friends struggling to play two full-time roles only to end up feeling upset whenever they cannot give their best. I have always wondered why women who work do not just share the household work with their partners. So much for education and living in an urban set-up.
That is where I realised I was wrong. Even since I started working, I slowly started understanding that while women are continuously fighting against all sorts of barriers to attain equality they are living in a society that has still not given up the traditional lens through which it looks at its women.
For example, if you are a married and working woman in a social gathering, you are asked all sorts of questions ranging from “do you enter the kitchen?” to “have you finally made your husband a cook?” thereby reinforcing the roles meant for you.
Another classic example where roles get reinforced is the office space where you are surrounded with people who are constantly judging you as a ‘good’ or a ‘bad’ woman. God forbid if your colleagues know that your husband helps you in the kitchen! Then you are judged as an inefficient employee as you cannot even handle your home let alone the office.
Knowingly or unknowingly a large number of working women in urban spaces still feel the pressure of these conflicting situations — of being a traditional woman at home and a modern one in the work space. And this is to do with the social expectations of women.
It is time we think – Have we really moved on from expecting women to play the traditional roles? If not it is time we do!
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Image source: stressed young woman in kitchen by Shutterstock.