Women’s Day this month was certainly an eventful one. With the trending theme of ‘Generation Equality’, we were witness to supportive, encouraging, and powerful conversations towards achieving this common goal of basic equality for women everywhere. Amidst these conversations, this day saw the release of the Women In Labour podcast, hosted by comedian/writer Aditi Mittal and filmmaker/journalist Christina MacGillivray. And, truth be told, with all the dialogues that we are engaging in to make this simple, yet complex, goal of equality into a reality, this podcast unquestionably takes the cake.
True to its title, Women In Labour talks about the alarming rate at which women are dropping out of the workforce in India; one of the fastest rates in the whole world. In fact, 19.6 million women have dropped out of the Indian workforce since 2005.
19.6 million women
With a number that big, the two questions we all need to ask ourselves are where are these women and why isn’t anyone talking about this number? Well, Women In Labour delves deep into these questions and helps us with a close understanding of what the problem is and why this conversation isn’t as vehement as it should be. This podcast is relatable, intimate, and hits close to home because, like MacGillivray puts it, “as women we share similar experiences.” Mittal, who has ardently spoken up for women through her craft as a comedian, adds how the experience of interacting and conversing with different women on this podcast taught her how to make her job work for her. And that’s the beauty of this podcast; the fact that it demonstrates how even one relatable conversation between women can change perspectives, build confidence, and steer one in a direction with more clarity.
T-1 days to #IWD2020 and the launch of #WomenInLabour . Need 5 good reasons to check out our brand new #podcast, hosted by @awryaditi and @christinamacgil ? Head to https://t.co/xT6SeV6IdK— Women in Labour (@WILPodcast) March 7, 2020
Releasing on all major platforms. #WIL #WomensDay #WomenofIndia#comedy #FLFPR #TuneIn pic.twitter.com/IUVunFExqS
In a conversation with Namita Bhandare, one of the first few journalists who shed light on the reasons why the number of women in the Indian workforce is falling, Women In Labour sets its tone; one that is about to tackle this issue with gusto and not leave any questions unanswered. The hosts bring up an age old saying of how a ‘woman’s work is never done’ and how ironic that statement is in India currently. We celebrate women who have broken the glass ceiling, beaten the odds, and fought tooth and nail to be in the positions they’re in - as we should, since these are important milestones in closing the massive gender gap that exists in the workforce, which according to the Global Gender Gap Report 2020, will take 257 years. But as the episode points out, while we celebrate the exceptional there are very few people speaking up for the 19.6 million women who are not in this demographic. Bhandare bluntly points out that “if 19.6 million men lost their jobs, there would be a revolution.” This statement is as striking as it is true. We live in a society where the patriarchy is relentless in fighting for male comfort, while women get completely sidelined.
Have you heard episode one yet? Journalist @namitabhandare decodes the case of India's missing working women, with hosts @awryaditi and @christinamacgil #WomenInLabour #WIL #Podcast #Journalism #Comedy #Episode1 #StreamingNow #IndianPodcaster pic.twitter.com/SDZQVu0624— Women in Labour (@WILPodcast) March 9, 2020
While each generation of women is brought up with different societal expectations, the episode brings up how aspects like marriage and motherhood can act as a barrier between a woman and her work. For example, organisations are sometimes hesitant to hire from a certain demographic of women who are married and expecting to have children, because this would warrant benefits like maternity leave. Additionally, marriage and motherhood comes with a barrage of social responsibilities women are expected to adhere to. Women In Labour brings up an alarming statistic of how housework is a reason that caused only 2.9% of men to drop out of the workforce, while it was the primary reason for women to drop out at a whopping 78%. Statistics like this prove that there is something that absolutely must change at the grassroots level. Mittal says, “Men have to share the load. Both men and women have to examine the way we are living in the world and how we are affecting each other.” Mindsets have to change; a man should be sharing responsibilities equally at home and a woman’s work should be more than just housework.
Increasing the number of women in the Indian workforce is a vital need. Equality at home and in the workplace is a basic concept that must be grasped for this number to increase. And while an equal world for women sometimes seems like an impossible task to accomplish, with factors like increased crime rates hindering them from even stepping out of their homes to go to work or facing the false notion of being ‘unburdened’ from work because a man is earning just enough to be the sole breadwinner, these conversations being had on Women In Labour is a step in the direction towards hope.
With a great sense of humour, and incredible insight, Twitter India and South Asia Director of Public Policy, @misskaul discusses what questions to-be moms should be asking about maternity leave, and how to take on leadership roles post-pregnancy. Tune In: https://t.co/CnTAQMnkIj pic.twitter.com/UFRRUYiYVJ— Women in Labour (@WILPodcast) March 14, 2020
With a segment in each episode called ‘do one thing’, where the hosts and the guest reflect on the topic of discussion and provide solutions, it’s refreshing to listen to women like Mittal and MacGillivray shed light on an issue that feels forgotten. Most importantly, it’s empowering to listen to these episodes because the energising conversations compels you to speak up for the women in India. By leaving no stones unturned, this podcast is a voice for the 19.6 million women. And, who knows, Women In Labour may be contributing to a future where the drop of women in the Indian workforce is a faded, distant memory.
Did you know Aditi Mittal is also a MAKER? Stay tuned for an exclusive interview with her releasing this week!