In the developing country like mine, due to the educational revolution, girls/women’s access to the education has resulted women’s participation in income generation activities and in employment. Women start to work outside but still the norms of her household responsibilities remains same. All the household chores: cooking, cleaning and caring portfolio, is considered as women’s primary work. There is no choice and somehow mandatory to complete her own “designated work” and then only allowed to work outside. Since the household work is designated work for women, it’s a matter of shame to her if any of the male members does the household work. It has been affecting women to face the double burden to manage both of her personal and professional work together and to consider all the socio economic factors to balance all of them at the same time. The norm is so much deep rooted in society that even if a man/boy wants to share the household responsibilities, it is not welcomed and considered well in the families. The pressure of society is so high that women directly cannot share/transfer her household work to men and boys.
I still recall my childhood: I was assigned to some of the small household helps to my mother before and after my school. Whereas my own and cousin brothers were never asked to finish any single of the households. Even if they wanted to help me to complete my work (so that I can play with them), my grandmother had a great concern on this. In her views, boys will be the bread-earner for the family and girls are the caretaker of household, so I should be practicing all those chores from young age. But my father never discriminated me in education nor in any of the opportunities. I was admitted in a good school like my brothers, however as a girl I had a separate certain rules and responsibilities that needs to be fulfilled besides my school.
One another memory I recall a most: after one of my Annual Parents’ Day at my school, I got a feedback from my grandmother that I should not be dancing with a boy in the stage as it was considered as “a shame”, whereas my cousin brother was highly appreciated to dance with a girl in the same programme, same dance, and he was a talk of the town for a month. This made me sad and internally probed the question why: why I was dealt differently, why was being a girl a big obligation, which continued for a long time.
After my marriage, I often consoled myself that I was getting the life of my dream with freedom to work- that I was a privileged one. I was told that I had to choose between a life with full luxury but limited to the boundary of four walls or to choose an independent working life with lots of struggle. I choose the second, thinking that I would be able improve the family life with my earnings. But my decision became costly to me but without any recognition of contribution; I solely had to go through lots of hardship balancing personal and professional life together. At that young age, I never realized that, life with independency can have luxury, comfort, and better understandings amongst. I never thought at that time, why man cannot shoulder households’ chores when a woman can equally shoulder her man as an economic actor; why only women supposed to have the burden of both personal and professional life all the time. Similar to this, a girl is always asked to choose whether she needs education, or the property. Generally girl/woman prefers education, thinking that she will easily earn money if she is given good education. But why she doesn’t have both of them for her economic security like boy. Why the girls are asked for options all the time, yes, we need of education and property both like boys and wanted to be privileged and secured as boys/men.
The size of my queries growing bigger, once I asked to my aunt that why men are privileged to do anything, they want with no regrets whereas women are doing so many responsibilities and sacrifices and even they are not being heard and acknowledged properly. Why women are expected to feel, think, understand and behave as per the need of family and society without a single question and any instruction from anyone. My aunt’s answer made me speechless and again the bunch of my queries deep inside got more strengthened, yet made me more confused. She told me that we, women are naturally gifted and have beautiful heart and full of patience, we see two (father’s and husband’s) houses, two household dealings and lots of experiences during the living so all those experience made our perspective broader in comparison to men’s. It’s the only ability and sixth sense of women that understands unheard, untold and unseen things. Thus, we women have to deal with this with our sense, knowledge and wisdom. It’s the women’s duty to understand the situations and fill the gaps and balance things in family and social life. Perhaps, the deep rooted this aspect is the third shift of the women’s work i.e. socio-emotional work. The queries within me continued a lot and I had gone through a big battle within myself to conclude my queries and confusions. It took lots of effort and self-initiatives (as mentioned in above paras), to get washed my brain with all those patriarchal norms and to change it even in my individual perspectives to all family and society. I am clear that No……. all the accountabilities, responsibilities and tireless efforts are not only an individual women’s cup of tea. It’s not necessary to understand, what was not told, it is not necessary to feel what was not said and it’s not completely necessary to read the mind of people and act what they wanted to.
After paying off huge cost for being an independent working mother, now on the occasion on Day of the GIRL, I urge you all young girls to live your life with equality and urge you not to pay any additional cost for your liberty, choice, empowerment and independent. Every girl needs to learn right from her childhood that kitchen is not their own periphery, laundry is not their sole responsibility or household chore and taking care of family is not only their individual responsibility. This is the life skills that is need for everyone both of the boy and girl and everyone should learn for themselves. If the accountability and role is changed as an economic actor, the work and responsibilities have to be shared accordingly.
I often feel happy to hear and honored as ‘’The Man of the house’’ by my daughter and I am a super woman in her image, but I do not wish my daughter or any of the girl go through a triple shift to be a ‘’Hero in life’’. Every girl or women needs eight hour of work, eight hours of rest and eight hours of entertainment in her life. She is equally eligible and deserves all of the required quality life as of any boy or man. It’s their own dignity and respect they deserve in their life.