It’s one thing to juggle home and work, and another to do the same with no aid from domestic help or members of the household. Unfortunately, for the majority of working women in India, this is the reality amid a prolonged lockdown that has left many confined to their homes for months.
Tired of having to single-handedly manage all the household chores while simultaneously taking care of the children, the elderly, and the ungodly amount of office work, women now have a foremost demand – ask men to share the load.
“Prime Minister Narendra Modi called for Indians to be self-reliant or ‘Atmanirbhar’,” says Subarna Ghosh, a Mumbai-based professional who has started an online petition, bringing to light the issue of inequality when it comes to sharing household chores. “Sign my petition asking Mr Modi to talk to Indian men about doing an equal share of care work within the household in his next speech,” she adds.
Subarna, who is a working mother, has been facing, like most working women in India, the brunt of having to shoulder all the household duties alone – a significant departure from the way these duties are shared by men and women together in most other parts of the world. But typically, gender politics and socio-cultural norms of India delegate these tasks to the care of women, even when they are matching steps with their male counterparts at the professional front.
“Unequal distribution of unpaid household work has rendered the harshest blow to women across India during this lockdown. Yet, women’s care work continues to be invisible and no one wants to address this gross imbalance,” shares Subarna in her petition hosted on Change.org.
The situation is further worsened by the pandemic and the resultant lockdown. With domestic helps and other professionals, who help women with household chores and caregiving, being unable to provide their services, the work has multiplied at home.
“I live with my husband and two children in India’s urban heartland. And I feel exhausted bearing this unfair share of the workload. The fatigue from being overworked is palpable amongst women in most Indian homes. Some even bear the ‘double burden’ of having a paid job,” emphasises Subarna.
Naturally, the exhaustion has built up over time. And with no one offering help, Subarna and her tribe appear to have turned to the only man who might be able to convince men to partake, Prime Minister Modi.
As the petitioner says, “If Mr Modi can inspire us to light lamps and clap in solidarity, he can inspire us to correct an unfair norm that discriminates against women in every home.”
(Edited by Kanishk Singh)