One of the more powerful forces transforming the Indian economy and society is the rise of women in the work force. This rise is seen even in the prestigious Indian Civil Services as well. In the recent round of hiring for the elite services, more than a third of new recruits were women – the highest share ever. Amongst the top ranked, the top four were women and so were 12 of the top 20. Whilst this is no doubt a heartening statistic, it is still a struggle for the working woman in society. In this piece for the Indian Express, an IPS officer, Shraddha Pandey, articulates this and suggests what society in general, men in particular and the women themselves should do to help make the working woman’s life less struggle some.
“As a society, we have been encouraging women to be educated, financially secure and independent. We want them to be the equals of men at work. However, we have failed stunningly in preparing ourselves for such women. There is hardly any talk of an equal ecosystem at home. It is true that some physical load of jobs traditionally done by women has been outsourced in some households — there is someone to cook the food, clean the house and wash the clothes. Yet the mental load remains — what is to be made for breakfast, flour and sugar need to be bought, the child needs to be vaccinated and so on. It is routine for me to get a call in the midst of an important meeting with words and be told, “Madam, ghar mein aloo khatam hai.” Few gentlemen officers would have had such an experience.
I don’t blame the person who makes this call. For him, the kitchen is his workplace and cooking nutritious meals his job. So, he will seek supervision on issues that are important in his view. However, one would be lying if one said that managing the kitchen, taking responsibility for the child, and work are not overwhelming. And one does hope these responsibilities can be shared more equitably as we go ahead”
She nonetheless urges working women to maintain the balance that only a woman can have. Referring to a recent quote: “Women are supposed to work like they don’t have children and be mothers like they don’t work outside the home. It is true that work is worship; it is also trye that the only people who remember you did overtime are your children. I ower everything I am to my profession and I wouldn’t even dream of cutting corners at my job. At the same time, I love my child more than anything I have ever loved or will love. There is a fine balance and striving to achieve it is everything. So be clear in seeking support from your partner and family in raising your child. Dedicate a few hours every week for activities to be done with your child. A happy home makes you a better employee.”
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