The working women
The women across the world manage home, family food and rearing of children. It is a full time, not-so-easy job. The lioness kill to feed her cubs and the lion gives protection.
It is the conspiracy of Nature that women may have a delegate form but she is imbued with capacity to work harder and with responsibility. She is tolerant, a better manager and has capacity to love and provide care to the growing children. Her procreative function makes her strong.
Women in the traditional family were responsible for cultural continuity and family traditions and festivals when folk tales specific to that festival were told and transpired to the younger women. They knew the whims and demands of the family members. Their creativity was manifested through their culinary skills, art forms like rangoli and embroidery etc, and folk songs and dance.
Even those who were educated, limited themselves as homemakers, perhaps by tradition. The grand parenting came naturally to the ageing, and they played a unifying role in case of any conflict. Rural women work harder - at home and also on the fields.
Education creates self-awareness of one's own capabilities. The girls at school, college and also at the level of higher education are doing far better than the boys. The increasing equal education has prompted aspirations and brought her out of the confines of home to work places.
Women by instinct and upbringing are conscious of insecurities, but despite the present day unsafe environment outside home and at work places, more and more women are working in civil, military and police services, banks, hospitality and corporate sector. They are conscientious and work efficiently and therefore climb the success ladder.
The increasing aspirations of women have led to social change with demands of gender equality and opportunity, and also affected their personal lives.
First, their career priorities have led to a delay in their marriages. Often they miss the marriage boat.
Second, with young men and women working together, there are instances of instinctive falling for each other, and often culminating into marriages, sometimes against the wishes of parents, especially with the increasingly diluting cultural inhibitions and individual freedom of choice.
At times, with declining initial passion, these marriages are short lived. There is a rise in divorce cases. This results in stress at personal and also at family levels. It has led to 'Second Shaadi.com'. Once bitten, pre-assessment for 'compatibility' has become important.
Several women decide to remain single by choice or due to other reasons. Some divorcees avoid another effort and get absorbed into the work; stress (of divorce) becomes the motivating force and economic security and family support lends courage. Few take to live-in route; it is considered a simpler way to get out. But the maternal instinct often prompts the desire to having children, when legitimacy weighs heavily; they eventually marry, because everyone cannot withstand the stress of family and social pressures.
Social change is a gradual process. In the west, un-wed mothers are not scorned. But in one American movie, a mother showing concern asked her daughter, 'Did you bed with him?'
But large number of marriages, among equal or even with unequal qualifications, different professions and earnings or even age, do work. In the marriage of two individuals, of different gender with different emotions, psychology, function, expectations and demands, conflicts are natural.
Accommodation, tolerance and adjustments are inherent to human nature, and when nurtured in mutual interest, not easy though, conflicts get easily resolved. Any adjustment with compromise can cause subconscious unease or even regret at times, and can cause spurts of conflict. But when there is consensual conscious willing adjustment, for common benefit of equal opportunity, balancing of 'different demands' becomes easier, especially when there is family support.
Child is the culmination of any marriage and satiated motherhood is most fulfilling.
Indeed working (married) women have to manage physical, mental, biological, family, emotional, psychological and social demands besides the stress of workplace. Nevertheless, they are known to be more conscious of family and children despite having servants than those non-working who get complacent and conditioned to the demands of children and husband, and manage work accordingly. Some working women are extremely good cooks, and despite their busy schedules, do find time, and enjoy cooking for the 'family'.
Those working women who can create the balance of their different demands, have been successful professionals. These days CEOs of several banks and corporate houses are women.
Behind their success lie the family support - husband, children and also the in-laws who ensure security especially of children when she is away for work. There comes the importance of family values. The family values are not 'rules' but a self-regulated congenial mutual conduct and relationship.
Human relations are complex, but mutual productive relationship for common benefit can make it less complex, promising confidence and collective family happiness; even the West has family values except the form may be different.
Education is not about CV or a means to get jobs, but the understanding that helps to give meaning to one's life, and a conduct to pursue the life's purpose and also the collective happiness.
It is not a question of gender equality or competing with men for educated aspiring professional married women, but the pride in one's own identity as women, the consciousness of responsibility and self-esteem, and to celebrate womenhood.
These days' parents have more confidence in their daughters. It is because of their qualities of providing love and care.
More about S K Srivastava
S K Srivastava is a Delhi-based freelance writer.