Paridhi Mittal, Pujit Tandon, Muskan Tyagi
"Just because my dreams are different than yours, it doesn’t mean they’re unimportant." - Little Women, 1994
Women play a significant role in their home space. Be it that of a sister, a mother, a wife or the countless other mantles that they hold. Unfortunately, society tends to shrug off the hard work that they accomplish as being of no real consequence.
Many of them have to balance jobs and housework as well as bringing up children, and on top of that not get an equal pay for the work that they do. With the Covid-19 pandemic having changed the way we work, working from home has been a safe way for most people around the world. While a lot of people might be frustrated or uncomfortable by this way of working, it might have been a relief for women who balance jobs and their kids. Mary Jo Weaver, Professor of Religious Studies at Indiana University, once said, "Women who work at home rearing children and attending to various household tasks are expected to provide something that is essential yet costs nothing like the air we breathe."
Women are expected to do the house chores as if it's the goal of their existence. Reet, a businesswoman, shared her opinion on this matter. She said, "It's like I have no freedom now. Attending the kids is one job, but I often feel guilty piling my work on others because they seem busy. It's literally like working from home and working at home. The first shift is in the office, the second and third shift at home."
Ruchira Sen, assistant professor at Jindal Global University, said, "Work done by women is unappreciated and unrecognized. It is often considered as something 'easy' and minuscule. Even if we are a part of the economy, our work isn't. When you observe the scenario overseas, a nanny is specially assigned to take care of children, and she is paid well but in India, that concept doesn't exist. Even if some working mothers did do so, they would be shamed for being 'bad parents."
With the idea of achieving recognition from household work, we asked Meera Mittal, a homemaker for the last 25 years, about what she thinks of getting monetary rewards for her day to day work. She said, "If we, homemakers get paid for building homes and helping our loved ones, there would be no difference between our house help and us. We do it out of pure love and concern and don't need money, but just some respect."
With mindsets and work places changing gradually, soon we’ll see a world led by feminists breaking stereotypes, spending more time in the workplace and less at cultivating homes and raising families. While we think this is a gradual yet significant change the world needed (women being "allowed" to work), we often forget the value of respecting one's freedom of choice.
Feminist movements have highlighted a slew of problems such as women’s struggle for their rights on equal pay, opportunities and respect. Another thing that needs to change is that women need to have each other’s backs. Earning women shouldn’t feel a sense of superiority looking at homemakers, rather, they should be supporting them in their endeavour.
It is encouraged to achieve your personal goals, but what if your goal is building a family and looking after your loved ones? Isn’t that something that deserves to be appreciated?
Though not everything looks bleak, there are many women who have used the status of being a homemaker to their advantage. Many women are now using online platforms to establish their businesses, such as the ‘dabba’ service in Delhi.
All in all, I feel women should use this crisis to step up to the current system and solve the problem of unequal compensation, putting support structures in place that allow for an equitable sharing of domestic chores and work on creating a safe anti-discriminatory policy framework.