Latasinha's Weblog

Social and political Values and Systems in India.

Plight of career woman


In recent past, a transition has taken place in the role of women. A modern woman desires to have a regular career, which makes her financially secure and satisfied, liberated and empowered. Financial strains on family due to price rise and inflation also force woman to work and add something to family income. She now works shoulder-to-shoulder with men in areas, which are far away from her traditional role of a home-maker.

However, it is not so easy for a woman. Her difficulties start with search for a job. Most of women are unaware of avenues open to them in job market. Whatever opportunities, they find, there is reluctance in hiring them. Employers suspect their capacity to give full attention and maximum output to work. Rejection becomes a big hurdle for women, as a number of unemployed people are always waiting in queue for jobs.

Taking up a full time job is not much of a problem for single women/childless women or women having grown-up children, as it is for a woman having small kids. It becomes strenuous for her to keep life going at home and to meet professional challenges simultaneously. All the time she has to work hard, a bit here, a bit there and cope with work at both places. It is not only physical strain. She is under constant psychological pressures too. On one hand, she has to conform to socially induced images of femininity – to be a good wife, perfect mother, efficient home-maker and on the other she has to work hard in office to prove her worth. She is a tough competition with her male counterparts, who are carefree. It is easier for them to pay full attention at office and move in the ladder faster.

Most disturbing phase in life of a working woman is, when her kids are small and need twenty four hours care. There is no substitute for a mother’s loving care. Every woman wishes to spend maximum time with her kids for their proper upbringing. Constant interaction of parents with children is the key learning tool needed in growing years. Parent’s ability to create a suitable atmosphere motivates child to develop one’s faculty in full. It also gives woman inner satisfaction and sense of fulfilment.

It is an irony for a career woman that when children need her the most, she hardly gets time to spend with them. Her mind remains busy in unresolved workplace problems, even while she is at home. When she has time, children do not need her much, as they get busy in school and other activities. Usually lack of time to think and act tends her to worry more about children’s physical needs and gloss over their psychological ones. Many women develop guilt feeling. To lessen their sense of guilt consciousness, they excuse themselves thinking of giving children quality time.

In two income-group nuclear families, couples have to leave their growing up children and household chores under supervision of others. Alternatives available to them are either old parents or baby-sitters/domestic help/crèches/day-care/child minder etc. In both situations, they face problems. Old people, due their old age and failing energies, find it difficult to look after kids properly. They have health problems too. Domestic helpers are expensive, unreliable, untrained and temporary. Formal institutions running more on commercial basis like creches/day care centres are overcrowded and are unable to pay required attention to children.

Sometimes, because of stress and strains of modern life, a career woman has to face problems like difficulty to conceive or deliver a healthy baby, miscarriages, birth of abnormal/unhealthy baby etc. At later stages, her busy schedule affects adversely proper growth of children in different degrees. In long run, dearth of time and required attention of parents at right time, lack of stimulation at home, while children are growing up, tense atmosphere at home because of both the parents being overloaded with work, impulsive handling of kids during tender age and easy availability of and access to money tempt children to develop undesirable habits, abnormal attitudes or delays development of abilities. Many children develop feeling of alienation and revolting indulgence. They become uncommitted to values of society or ‘establishment’. Some times, they get confused about their own values and sense of identity. Some of them become victims of drug addiction in order to escape from problems, that may be real or imaginary.

Child care dilemma is seen not only in India, but in advanced countries too, where government has created enough facilities and arrangements to make their citizens secure and comfortable. The plight of a young career woman in America is described beautifully by Linda Burton (What’s a smart women like you doing at home? Published in Readers Digest August, 1988). She says that she never intended to stay back at home. “Before the birth of my first child, I had a full time job as a fund-raiser at a public interest law firm”. “After my child was born, I found myself ….getting angry about all the things, he was keeping me from doing. I missed my job and my friends, I felt poverty-stricken and I looked awful. So, like many other women, I decided to go back to work” thinking that she would give her child “Quality” time in the evenings and on week-ends. She tried nannies, housekeepers, home-based day-care centres, crèches etc. but was not satisfied and found them unreliable and unqualified for the job. Apart from it “I found that I had little “Quality” time for my child in the evening; I was tired. I also discovered that I missed my son during day”. “No matter how many licenses we issue, how many guidelines we establish or how much money we pay, it is impossible to have quality controls over the capacity of one human being to love and care for another. I wanted someone who was loving and tender, with a sense of humour and an alert, lovely manner – somebody who would encourage my children’s creativity”…. “Slowly, painfully, I came to a stunning realization; the person I was looking for was right under my nose. I had desperately been trying to hire me. And that is what a smart woman like me is doing at home”.

Visualizing all this, question arises – has a modern career woman become economically stronger, liberated, empowered and found her own identity and worth, but made her emotionally broken? Also that giving prime time to children is not enough. A woman’s role as a mother is crucial. Nobody else can replace it. Nobody else could cultivate positive qualities in children, which once imbibed, inevitably become part of one’s nature. These in turn, provide guidelines for their future wholesome behaviour patterns as responsible citizens and social human beings.

October 8, 2008 - Posted by | Women's issues |


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