Happy Women’s Day!
You must have received countless messages and emails in the run-up to today, Women’s Day discounts, Women’s Day themed cocktails and what not. It’s funny but have you ever wondered why everything related to women is thought of being so frivolous? There is seriously more to us than new clothes and drinks. Yes, we like those too but throw in things like equal pay, safety and sharing the load at home, and then we’ll be getting somewhere. Maybe send a coupon for 50% less gender prejudice at work and we’ll grab it for sure. Now, I’m sure you know it already that Women’s Day is not about discount coupons. However, retail outlets and businesses seem to not have grasped that. But I guess any kind of publicity is better than no publicity. Well, as long as it keeps the discussion going in some way, I suppose.
But what is Women’s Day?
Women’s Day is a call-to-action, a reminder or a stop to access where we have reached, how much further we still have to go and make relevant conversations hoping to turn them into action in the near future. It’s for me a day to reiterate my promise to do everything in my humble capacity to live the life I want to and be there to support the women around me in any way I can. Sometimes, it’s by being the sounding board or sometimes just by not making it any harder for the women around me. Remember, every drop counts so I’m hoping every effort counts too.
Now, every year Women’s Day has a theme and this year it is #Balanceforbetter. The dream is to create a gender-balanced world in every sense of the way. Of course, it would be foolish to hope for overnight transformation but perhaps one step at a time and the future generations will get a better deal than us.
But where are we striving for balance?
The short answer is in every sphere of life. From household chores to representation in the board rooms, from equal pay for equal work to something as simple as being able to go out at night without worrying about our safety, that’s the balance we seek. A balanced world. Simone de Beauvoir said, “One is not born, but rather becomes a woman.” And she was right. The moment someone sees me at work, I’m identified as a woman, a married woman, one who has a child and then deductions are made based on that. A man is never subjected to so many tags as women are at the workplace. I would love to see some sort of balance in that perception at work. I would love to see us being recognised based on the quality of our work and not the hours spent at work or the titles we carry in terms of our relationships. That is the balance I seek at my workplace.
Also, the baggage that we seem to have inherited on account of being a woman is something I would love to not have to do with. I just want to be me and be given the opportunities attuned with that. Not much to be asking for, I’d say. But that’s just me. I asked women and men around me about what balance they sought in their lives. And this is what they said.
“I just wish for once I didn’t have to worry about the grocery list. I don’t have a degree in grocery shopping so why me.”
“I’m a work-from-home dad which is quite rare but this somehow makes myself and my wife open to pitty which is strange because we are quite happy with the decisions we have made. “
“I don’t know when I want children or if I want children. Can the queries be directed to my husband for a change? I can’t have children on my own, can I?”
“Can’t I discuss my career without being told for the umpteenth time that I should be thankful for being ‘allowed’ to leave early? I mean I leave at 5:30 in the evening and am one of the first ones in. So, where’s the favour?”
“I found out last year that I get paid about 30 % less than my male colleague. Same designation and the same experience. So, why? I want this gender-pay-gap gone.”
“Can’t I take care of my parents without having to explain this to my husband or in-laws? Just because I’m married, I cannot leave them alone.”
“I don’t want my dad to stay awake tensed when I have to catch early morning flights and need to find a male relative to escort me. I want to be safe at all hours of the day. Too much to ask?”
“My husband doesn’t help in any household chores and my mother-in-law doesn’t let him either. So, I’m working non-stop. Please, equal distribution of household chores. I’m not a machine.”
“I’m not allowed to wear leggings. So, can we just start there?”
“I’m not comfortable in sarees at home. If I don’t wear them doesn’t mean I’m disrespecting elders. If my husband can wear shorts at my in-laws’ and at my parents’, then why do I need ‘proper clothes’ when we visit his place?”
“I’m pregnant and my mother-in-law has asked hundred times already if I’m having a boy. How about things change in this department?”
“Can I not be told to put on a saree every time a client comes visiting? Unless of course, the men wear traditional Indian attire as well?”
“So, I have been meeting prospective life partners and almost everywhere my proficiency as a cook seems more important than the kind of person I am. They know I can hire a cook so can we move past the vision of me being the kitchen as the penultimate goal of my marriage to whoever?”
“I’m 33 and still not married and I’m happy that way. Can people stop feeling sorry for myself?”
“I am doing very good career-wise but every time a guy finds out I earn more than him, he seems unable to take it. Tell me, every guy is not like that. And if they are then can we change that?”
“This is what my day looks like – cooking for my child, office, coming back home, taking care of household chores, child and then if possible, finding some time for myself. Can I have some things taken off my list, please and not make it seem like some kind of favour is being done to me?”
Well, that’s all I have for now. Quite varied responses, right? But there is something common in all of these. Can you see that too? I think it’s the fact that most women have to do so much of the unpaid work at home that they are almost always stressed out. Maybe that’s an area which needs immediate attention. So, maybe, let’s start with our own homes first, shall we?
This women’s day, make a pledge that in everything you do, you’ll make an effort to strive for balance. Doesn’t matter if you are a man or a woman. And if you are a man, then you are especially needed to help the women in your lives get the fair deal. There can be no balance if you are not with us in this fight, can it?
I think if each one of us seeks this equilibrium in our lives then we could see some shift in the right direct direction. Let’s do this not for ourselves, but for our kids. Since they are already inheriting a world in shambles, the least we can do is give them a less gender-skewed society to deal with.
Here’s to balancing for the better! Happy Women’s Day.
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This month’s #FeministMonday comes early as I wanted to club it with Women’s Day. Hope you liked the post!
Join me and let’s work towards a world of gender parity. Remember, each voice counts. Tell me your story.