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Today, in the Economic Times, Dominic Barton, Managing Director of McKinsey shared his views on how India could become the $10 trillion economy in the article, “India needs a force to reach its $10 trillion potential and become a global role model”. He lists the challenges that India faces to reach that mark.
One such challenge that he mentions is gender inequality. He believes that women should participate more in the economy. In India women contribute less that a fifth of India’s GDP. Which means women add upto just 24% of the workforce at present. He clearly states that India will fall short of its economic potential if woman’s participation doesn’t increase.
I appreciate his observation and his views on how India should work on this challenge? That is the reason I chose to reflect on this article.
It’s a great observation and the solutions too are worth applying. But, the fundamental change that we need to see in India is at the micro level. The mindset of each Indian woman and man needs to change because, when a woman steps out of her house to pursue a career, its never easy. She faces innumerable challenges.
Most women quit their career after they marry and its not a big deal, it’s perfectly okay. They either feel they need to be with their family and their husband earns enough to run the family comfortably. Lot of women opt for higher education, complete it but, don’t pursue their careers. Also, making a career is not that important for girls. After marriage it’s the prerogative of the man to decide if his wife would work or stay at home. Well, why does someone else needs to decide that for her? She is an individual and she needs to speak for herself.
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It’s all about the way we raise our children. Women are primarily told that they have to look after the household chores, where cooking is a major part. She is bonded to the kitchen, while cooking is just optional for men. Why cannot we tell our sons that they need to move on and learn to help their mothers and sisters?
Even while a woman decides to work she knows the balancing act is difficult. She has to manage both house and her career. Imagine the stress that she goes through. Its just not easy to manage this herculean task without a helping hand. There are tens and thousands of things that need to be managed at home. How can she do that all by herself? She isn’t a machine or a superwoman. Here is how she either quits her career due to stress or it affects her health.
While she is sacrificing so much of her time to run the show, she needs to do it with all her love and affection. Why is she actually brainwashed to fit in this mould? The first culprits are our TV sitcoms that portray an ideal woman to be sacrificing, enduring and multi-tasking. Why do we need to glorify this image?
Then comes her pregnancy, where she has to take a maternity leave or just quit her career completely. Not all companies provide facilities and flexi-timings. Even when she joins back she has to leave her child at a crèche. After she gets home, she has a hell lot of things to manage. Why cannot companies have crèche at the workplace, which could be chargeable?
Yes, Indian women have travelled a long way in accepting unusual careers and rising up the corporate ladder. But, the percentage is too low. And still in rural areas girls are made to quit school as parents cannot afford further education, while the boys continue getting educated. Her education and future both are sacrificed for the sake of a male child.
Its all about changing our perspective. Parents should begin raising their children differently. Boys should also be trained to do household chores and participate. They cannot just sit there glued at their cell phones or TV screens while their sister is busy multitasking. If the boys aren’t taught about ‘equality’ in the family they are going to grow up to be men who only slouch in the sofa while their wife runs around taking care of the entire house.
If things don’t change at the micro level the change that we seek so passionately at the macro level are hard to achieve. If we as Indian citizens wish to contribute towards the growth of our country, each parent and each Indian needs to change the way we look at our girl child- her life, careers and aspirations.
© Copyright 2018 Rashmi S. Malapur All rights reserved.