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Working women in India often lose out on a career post motherhood; but working mothers can gain an income from these flexible jobs for women.
By Dipika Singh
Having a baby is a life-changing experience in more ways than one. For instance, a lot of working women in India discover that it is extremely challenging to go back to a full-time job and career. This can be either due to a lack of support to look after the baby or because they want to devote more time to the child. However, this is not to say that working mothers don’t want to apply themselves to anything beyond the baby. But what are the options?
Ketaki Harmilapi* was working as an Account Director with a leading national advertising agency when she had a baby. While she had planned to go back to full-time work once the baby was 6 months old, she realized that she just didn’t want to. Yet, she missed doing something creative and productive with her day, something for her own self.
She says, “I wanted to spend more time with the baby, teach him his first words, and watch him take his first steps, but somewhere I also rebelled against turning into a woman obsessed with only the baby. I wanted to feel useful elsewhere as well. It became a question of my identity.”
While her husband supported her decision, the lack of a second income also put financial pressure on them. Then she had a chance encounter with an RJ whom she had worked with during her agency days. This meeting resulted in Ketaki taking a few voice-over lessons from him, making some test tapes and sending them out. Today she does voice-overs for advertisements produced by her previous employer and several others. While she is not flooded with work, she makes decent money and is also able to achieve her goal of spending time with her baby.
Like Ketaki, there are other working mothers out there exploring out-of-the-box opportunities to keep themselves relevant, creatively satisfied and also monetarily self sufficient if possible. Here are some such jobs for women:
From hobbyist to working mother
Namita Dewan was always fond of gardening. However, while working at an IT company, she barely had time to even water her few plants. Once her baby was 3 months old, Namita invested in a kitchen garden. Today, she manages to gift green chillies and a few root vegetables to her friends and neighbours. It gives her tremendous pleasure and an odd sense of pride and accomplishment. Given the current stress on organic vegetables and the focus on health food, with the right marketing Namita can look at expanding her business and also make substantial money from it.
Sometimes, lack of direction when very young or just plain, commercial reasons results in selection of certain academic courses and hence a career path. However, a lot of working women in India discover a keen interest in a completely unrelated field as time goes by. This is a good time to invest in a course related to that field, so that you can look at changing careers. This comes with both advantages and disadvantages. While beginning on a clean slate gives working mothers the the ability to decide how much time to devote to work, it also brings with it far lesser starting income.
When working mothers turn entrepreneur
Ankita Mehrotra* and Archana Deshpande* sourced a small garage and set up a book store catering to children between the ages of 2-12. The bookstore graduated into a space for workshops for moms and kids and now Ankita and Archana have actually been approached for franchises.
Ankita cautions, “Do make sure that the there is a sound business plan prior to setting up the business. Since we have an outflow in terms of rentals, cost of books etc, we actually put together a plan for 2 years before setting up shop. Also remember, it is something that you are going to invest money and time in, so be sure to start something that really interests you. Don’t start it on a whim.”
Blog to Income?
With practically no investment required to create a website/blog of their own, many women are discovering a way to share knowledge and experiences across the web and also make friends. The blog can be about a hobby or purely anecdotal in nature. Upload recipes or share tips on interior decoration. Or simply chronicle the joys of being a new mother. Blogs by themselves are not immediate money spinners. Though one can earn money from advertising on the blog, it is a slow process. Blogs that showcase your expertise in a particular area could however lead to other opportunities.
Workshops and classes
When she is not doing voice-overs, Ketaki also volunteers at art and craft workshops at her son’s preschool. Workshops, whether based on your work experience or around hobbies, allow one the flexibility of working a few hours in a week. The biggest advantage of such jobs for women is the ability to organize them around the child’s schedule. Depending on the skill imparted, the audience and the level of marketing, workshops can earn one from Rs. 250 per student per session to Rs. 2000 per student per session.
But it is not always a cake walk. Her husband’s transfer necessitated Ranjna Monga’s shift from Delhi to Mumbai when her baby was 4 months old. With no grandparents in the city to look after the baby, Ranjna had to give up a flourishing career in Training. However, she loved cooking. Friends suggested that she explore making chocolates and selling them. Initially excited, Ranjna slowly discovered that making the chocolates was turning into drudgery and she no longer enjoyed the same. Also, the orders were few and far between, resulting in a lack of motivation. She gave it up.
She spent 4 years in Mumbai fretting, before ultimately moving back to Delhi and returning to work after her career break. Ranjna realizes now that a little bit of marketing would possibly have gone a long way in getting her more orders. She also realizes that she could have used the money to employ help to take care of the labour intensive part of the process. But this is purely on hindsight.
Working women in India today are discovering that life after motherhood does not mean being caught in the decision of whether to work full-time or not. There is a middle path. Yet, alternative jobs for women involve a great deal of introspection on one’s talents and hobbies. It also means coming to a decision on how important is the income from that source. But the joy of being there for your child combined with the thrill of doing something productive and maintaining your identity is enough motivation for women to go out there and experiment.
*Names changed on request.
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