By Ms. Selene Alina
Podcast by Ms Akanksha Seth
Vartika- a modern day woman lives in Pune with her husband. She had been married for nearly two years with a friend from her school. She is an IT professional, much like her husband; and five days of her week are packed with multi-tasking between managing family as well as home. Since they are a Double Income No Kids couple, society has high expectation bars set for them, particularly Vartika. The girl is the sole point of contact of managing all communication between her unit and relatives. She makes sure she calls both her parents and her husband’s every day, despite of hectic work hours. She makes sure they don’t forget to wish any of their relatives on their special occasions, more so physically attend all family functions like weddings. At least twice a year she ensures that they make a trip to home and meet everyone. So much to do for a 28 year old girl, which she manages each day since catching up with dawn.
Yet, there are complaints and grievances from many corners. Vartika’s in-laws complaint about her odd office hours and that she won’t be able to raise her kids properly in future- due to her demanding work life. Her extended family continuously demands for a child- citing a woman to complete her family before touching the magical number of age 30. On their trip to their native place, Vartika’s mother in law makes sure that she lets her son sleep till late hours each morning, as he “works too hard in his office”; however Vartika is expected to get up by 6 am everyday and take lead in the kitchen chores. She keeps telling her that a woman should always facilitate her household with all necessities by taking lead in everything. Her sister in law keeps telling her about the fancy gifts she wants to which the mother in law is all ears and makes purchases accordingly, with nothing in the purchase basket for vartika. Vartika’s husband while making itinerary for their home trip, makes sure he spends five out of seven days at his parents place and only one or two days at her wife’s home. All this while Vartika is a mere listener with a million thoughts storming in her mind, yet unable to reach her tongue.
She has been raised in a family of decorated army officers and knows how to manage her unit. However at times she feels, “Why so much is expected from a girl every single moment, but nothing from the boy?” “Why do I only have to take lead in kitchen, with limited participation from my husband?” “When my mother-in-law is so concerned about her son, why no instruction ever pops up to him, while I am being given sermons to do this and not do that?” “Can such a day ever come when right from the morning I share the responsibilities and my husband takes equal charge?” “Can people really be sensitive that a girl too wants equal number of days with her parents, just like a boy wants while visiting his home?” “Can the women, at least, be sensitive of not measuring other woman’s capabilities by her skin shade, physical attributes, and just being meek acceptor of every decision taken by the family heads?” “Can all in the extended circles stop assessing a woman based on her ability to give birth before 30?” “Can the women have an equal footing and space share while doing office tasks, because their offices are no less important! “
We talk of women empowerment, yet fail to address these basic issues which girls face on an everyday basis. And this scenario is of educated families, that have at least made an attempt to educate their girls and want them to work. Then what really changes in the case of a daughter in law? Why is she expected to be a super human delivering all works with exceptional efficiencies? As a society we need to walk a long toad to empowering the females. When they can fearlessly take their decisions without worrying what should they do according to the society rule book, which is specially made for them only at each stage of their life. For developing nations like India, in order to excel in terms of human development indicators, strengthening institutions that promote growth and development of a woman, becomes a primary task as this juncture. Only with this gender parity can one envision of a shining India.