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Why do women (especially mothers) need to work… is is only financial or for proving a point? This is a question many ask, but the answer lies somewhere else.
A few decades ago, a working woman meant only one thing, that her family’s wallet wasn’t deep enough. Only a grave financial situation at home warranted a woman to step out and seek employment. Even now, in some sections of society, people feel that women do not need to work if their husbands are able to provide for the family. Housekeeping and childcare are considered her primary responsibilities.
Centuries of oppression and a lack of opportunities led to women sticking to their comfort zones and choosing to stay at home. However, education has brought them awareness, the need for self-actualisation and a strong desire to get out into the world and prove the their mettle.
Barry Schwartz, professor of psychology at Swarthmore College, says that non-monetary considerations for working are long and compelling. His thoughts on work apply to both men and women. In the case of women, while going out and working may be ‘optional’, it may be interesting to look into other factors that make them ‘want’ to work.
Besides earning them their bread and butter, having a job gives an individual a sense of identity and a sense of fulfilment. Managing both their home and their job may be taxing for most women, but they are not willing to give up so easily.
Lawyer and activist Anjali Ramanna says she can’t imagine being idle. “I am blessed with the ability to multi-task expertly. I find joy in connecting with different kinds of people and helping them,” she says. Apart from being a mother and wife, she writes and engages in the theatre arts.
With her only daughter settled abroad and her husband always travelling for work, bank employee Maya Agastya says that she cannot imagine giving up her job, even though she no longer requires her salary to lead a luxurious life. “I landed this job after cracking a particularly difficult entrance exam and I cherish every bit of it. Interacting with customers keeps me happy and occupied. I don’t plan on giving it up till my retirement,” she says with a smile.
To Bandana Kankani, who quit her job to start her own consulting firm after her son’s birth, working means learning continuously. “Through my venture, I have gained reasonable knowledge in diverse fields like IT, finance, e-learning, designing, writing and other creative fields. I love the challenges I face at my job and find great satisfaction in offering productive solutions to top entrepreneurs.”
Women, by nature, are large-hearted. This quality, feels Deepthi Das, fuelled her passion for teaching. She now teaches at a private university and derives immense happiness from her career that is all about molding young minds. “The education enables the youngsters to find employment and support their families, which brings “The education enables the youngsters to find employment and support their families, which brings more meaning to my life, she feels. In many roles Nuclear medicine practitioner and founder and trustee of Osteoporosis Foundation India
Dr Mythri Shankar says, “I need challenges to engage my mind. My intellectual capabilities and inherent potential need positive stimulation.” She straddles multiple roles as a doctor, wife, and mother, and is equally at ease making paranthas for her kids as well as giving lectures on nuclear medicine across the world. “Besides, money that work brings in does facilitate guilt-free shopping,” she says with a chuckle.
Sheer exhaustion and inability to cope force some women – especially young mothers – to give up their career and focus on their family. Men, despite being the other half of the marriage or relationship, are never expected to make this choice. They feel perfectly entitled in asking the woman to compromise her dreams to oil the creaky wheels of their lives.
“I wouldn’t do that,” says young Manish, whose wife is a stay-at-home mother by choice. “I would encourage her to get back out there once our daughter is grown up, as she was a successful career woman before she took a break. I know that she would not be happy changing nappies and doing household chores forever. I do not want her to resent us,” he says.
It becomes harder when companies discriminate against women of child-bearing age. “I was denied promotion as a younger batch of employees joined my department. The top brass felt that I would have a baby and resign, but they were wrong. My work is the highlight of my life and I love it. Increments, promotions and perks are just a by-product of my job. My office is my second home,” says Sandhya, a private employee.
Well, the next time the going gets tough, dear ladies, stop and think about what your job and career mean to you. Let temporary setbacks not deter you from your path of finding a sense of belonging and satisfaction of leading your own life, not to stop and think about what your job and career mean to you. Let temporary setbacks not deter you from your path of finding a sense of belonging and satisfaction of leading your own life, not to speak of the freedom and control it gives you.
A version of this was first published here.
Image source: shutterstock
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