USA has never had a woman president. India has had a woman Prime Minister and President.
Why is it then that Indian women slave with the household chores while women in the USA share the burden with spouses? Why do equality and freedom which come easily to the upper strata of Indian society fail to percolate to the lives of every single Indian. Why does a man, who worships Goddesses Durga and Kaali, not hesitate to rebuke his wife if dinner is not ready on time? Why are we a nation of double standard bigots who fervently worship cow as mother, open doors for Goddess Lakshmi on Diwali and also nonchalantly abort human female fetuses?
We, as a society, blindly follow age old doctrines without questioning their relevance in modern times. The tethering of woman to home and hearth in archaic times was based on division of work. The man of the house worked outside to earn money for grain, which the woman transformed into edible bread. The woman took care of work inside the perimeter of the house, which included washing clothes, cooking, cleaning and raising children. It was a neat arrangement which worked efficiently for ages, but it also etched ‘DAILY CHORES’ in permanent ink on the foreheads of the species called ‘WOMEN’.
As times changed, girls started getting education and seeking jobs outside their homes. They walked shoulder to shoulder with men in the universal fight for earning money. They started becoming teachers, doctors, and lawyers and later ventured into brawnier jobs like police, pilots and firefighters. They soared higher in the sprawling firmament of unprecedented opportunities but could not fade the ink that wrote ‘DAILY CHORES’ on their souls. Eventually, they started wearing two heavy hats on their fragile heads-homemakers and breadwinners! The jobs outside home were bone-crushingly demanding and the responsibilities at home were perpetually polarized to always point towards them.
While the husband laid his feet up on the coffee table to watch TV in the evening, the wife hurriedly fetched a cup of tea for him after loading the washing machine with kids sports clothes, soiled after the game. As the machine works on the clothes, she kneads the dough and chops vegetable for curry. As she submits onions and tomatoes from blender to the pan, the washing machine beeps and beckons her. So, she simmers the stove and rushes to hang the clothes on the balcony to dry. Alas, to her consternation, the curry had started to smell burnt and she has to quickly think of an alternative daal, with sweat and exhaustion running down her hair and spine.
Was their justice in the world? Was there a God looking at His daughters being pulverized under the wheel of life while the sons just watched callously? The truth is that God in these criminal times is working overtime to uproot sin and Satan; so, the duty to eradicate gender oppression rests on each one of us. We cannot just keep on ingesting the futile traditions and passing the same fodder to our kids. We have to pluck out the rocks tied to the wings of our girls if we want them to fly free in the sky.
Every woman and man has to participate in this revolution of sharing the load between genders. We have to struggle for freedom of our women if we want happiness in our families and prosperity in our country.
These are simple steps in our daily lives that can bring a sea change in society and inculcate the habit of sharing the load in the next generation:
-Stop the tradition of the girl-to-be-married bringing trays loaded with tea and snacks for the boy’s family when they come to meet the girl’s family .Let the girl’s father and brothers partake in this display of hospitality. This will send an immutable signal to the visiting family that women are not expected to be the tray-bearers in the family.
-Teach every child, boy or girl, to do their own laundry soon as they reach the reach the age of ten. Encourage them to leave dirty clothes in the laundry basket when they turn five. It’s a known fact that daughters of the US president do their own laundry albeit they have the White House full of attendants. Carrying their own weight and that of their clothes is a lesson to be taught to each child early on in life.
-Hang two cooking aprons ‘His’ and ‘Her’ in the kitchen always. The husband and wife should alternately slip on their aprons when cooking/serving dinner to the family. In this era of internet, all recipes are available on YouTube, so the excuse of not-knowing-how-to-cook is not valid anymore. The man should get up to fetch salt, pickle or anything else missing from the table. This simple routine is a life lesson which cannot be explained adequately in any book or journal.
-Hang a chart for the weekly chores in the kitchen dividing all the tasks equally between husband and wife. The tasks should rotate each week to break the monotony and boredom. If wife is cooking dinner, then husband must finish laundry that week.
-Ask every family member to make their bed before leaving for school/work. This habit formed in the childhood makes adults autonomous and confident in their lives. They will never wait for a wife or mother to smooth out their slept-in blankets and sheets. Also, a neatly made bed fills the house with a positive vibe.
-Do not discriminate between toys for girls and boys. Do not buy toys like ‘Kitchen sets’ and play ovens for daughters. This silently imprints on their nascent minds the duties they are supposed to fulfill in their lives and also prepares the boys of what to expect from sisters and wives.
-Prepare daughters for life, and not marriage. Encourage girls to dream big and facilitate their path towards realization of their dreams. Confront and avoid relatives who always pester your daughter to be domestic and docile to serve her husband’s family. A woman’s destiny is not marriage and bearing children.
-Watch news snippets and movies with the family where a woman plays a central role as a professional doctor, pilot, scientist or police officer. Interestingly, in an experiment conducted by a research group, some 6-8 year olds were asked to draw a pilot and a police officer and all of them drew a strong, muscular man in a uniform. We have to break that stereotype in our children’s minds—so our girls know that they can be anything and our boys expect them to.
-Treat every woman with respect and equality. Children of today see the world through the eyes of their parents. Their beliefs and convictions are undeniably molded by us. Let us live what we preach because example is any day stronger that precept. Actions speak louder than words and always will.
Let each one us of be the torch-bearer for the future generation, so that their lives glitter with luminescence that God designed for all of us .Let us partake in God’s plan of equality for men and women for our own benefit—to make our worship and reverence to Him meaningful and genuine.