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Yes, women have always been the drafted soldiers that keep humanity going. It’s now the society’s turn to ask what it can do in return.
Women are the soldiers of humanity. Most of us love what what do and often find it fulfilling, but they deserve compassion and respect as they battle pain, fatigue and a host of physiological problems.
Women bear the burden of creating new life. We suffer for the survival of the species.
We create a new home for possible life in our bodies every month. And when such life develops, we sustain it for nine months inside our bodies, sometimes at the cost of our own health and well being.
Morning sickness, ectopic pregnancies, preeclampsia, gestational diabetes are only a few of the complications that arise. The nine month long stressful journey often culminates into hours of painful labor, and even more painful childbirth. In many cases tears and stitches follow. In other cases women have to endure surgery for safe and successful childbirth.
In the months that follow, hormones wreak havoc in our already stressed and sleep deprived systems, so that we can nurture the new life we have birthed. A woman’s brain goes through significant changes during pregnancy and in the first few months after childbirth. Some even suffer from psychological conditions like postpartum depression.
Are any of these a sign of weakness? I think not. The fact that the human species thrives, is a testament to the endurance and strength of women.
Childbirth in humans is more difficult and painful than in most other species. Also, human babies are dependent on their parents for far longer than newborns of other species. This is the price we pay for human intelligence.
And of all of this, women endure quite happily, for it is all natural.
Now let’s talk about the unnatural.
What is unnatural is that, after women do the major share of the work for perpetuating our species, instead of being compensated for it, they are punished for it, in one way or another.
Women make up nearly half the world’s population. They are the half that takes on most of the responsibilities of perpetuating the species. In return, it is the duty of the other half, to compensate them for it. Compensating women for their role in perpetuating the species is not a favor or charity. It’s only practical logic for the species to thrive.
Compensating women does not mean making decisions for them. They do not need to be locked away or deprived of opportunities for being dirty or fragile. Nor should they be forced to work through the excruciating pain or discomfort. Every woman needs to be recognized as an individual and should be allowed to choose how she wishes to balance her physiological, emotional, intellectual, physical priorities. As intelligent adults, they are quite capable of making optimal decisions that work best for their own particular circumstances and bodies.
It is not for men or society, or offices, or organizations, or governments, to tell women what to do during periods, pregnancy, or childbirth. They need to listen to what women need and respond with compassion, flexibility and humanity, keeping in mind that evolution has already drafted women in to doing their share for society. Yes, women are the drafted soldiers that keep humanity going. It’s now the society’s turn to ask what it can do in return.
There is absolutely no shame in needing period leaves or maternity leaves. Those who want to avail it should be able to do so without guilt or shame, likewise it should neither be forced upon those who do not wish to avail it. Period leave is not charity, it painfully earned for our daily toils.
Women do their bit for the society everyday, from building wombs to destroying them, to recreating them, and finally growing and nurturing life. So women’s needs don’t make them a financial burden on either the society or the workplaces.
Women enable humanity to function and thrive. They deserve the right to follow their dreams and pursue their passions, and it is the duty of the organizations, workplaces and society in general to make this path easier for them. And compensate these soldiers who cheerfully and diligently perform their duties for the human race.
Women neither need to be idolized nor demonized, simply given their due.
First published here.
Image source: a still from the film Tumhari Sulu
Kanika G, a physicist by training and a mother of 2 girls, started writing to
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