By Neha Bagaria
Picture this: two people come together and decide to start a new company and both founders are equally involved in the process of coming up with the idea and starting the business. Each partner has a different skill set, and so one of the two founders takes up the initial burden of breathing life into the idea and starts the company. However, even after the business is at a stage where both founders can pitch in, one partner still ends up contributing very little to the joint effort.
Does this seem unfair to you? If yes, then consider how egregious this disparity becomes when one considers the amount that Indian fathers conventionally contribute towards parenting and household chores. Mothers don’t only face the biological burden of bearing and birthing a child, but also have to contribute disproportionately more than fathers in bringing up the child and running the home. However, with a change in societal attitudes about parental responsibility, husbands have slowly begun to pull their weight and have started to contribute towards child-rearing and household chores.
The problem and the opportunity
A recent study undertaken in Canada revealed that women tended to do more household chores than their male partners, regardless of whether they were working and making more money than their male counterparts or not. The issue remains the same in India, as a patriarchal construction of parental responsibilities leaves mothers with most of the responsibility of running a household and caring for children.
According to a study conducted by the Organisation for Economic Co-ordination and Development (OECD) Indian men only contributed to household chores for 19 minutes daily one of the lowest in the world. Similarly, a survey conducted by the International Centre for Research on Women in 2010 revealed that only 16% of men in India contributed towards the running of the household substantially.
There is also a strong economic incentive for fathers and husbands to take a more active role at home. A McKinsey study revealed that men doing more housework could add around 16% to Indias GDP by 2025. The research comes to this conclusion based on how this would give mothers and women more time to focus on work and their financial independence. At present, the study estimates that women end up spending an average of 5 times more than what men do on household chores daily. This indicates that an equalisation of this burden could spur mothers and housewives back into the workforce, leading to a positive inflow in all fields.
The winds of change
More and more couples across the country every day are breaking free of gendering stereotypes which lie at the root of this problem. Fathers and husbands are becoming the strongest pillars of support for their working wives. Spousal support is incredibly vital for women looking to restart their career, and husbands are beginning to take up more household and parenting duties not as a favour, but as a clear-cut attempt to balance out responsibilities. Having a supportive partner and family is pivotal to enable Indian women to re-enter the workforce and unlock their full potential.
For instance, Geetha, a freelance content writer, initially managed her family-owned retail store while running the household and raising her son. Now, as she works from home, she gets comprehensive support in raising her son and running the household from her husband and mother. Hundreds of women like her are working in full-time roles, able to better balance the responsibility of being a mother and managing the home with the able support of their husbands. If this trend continues and there seems to be the extremely good reason for it to become stronger India women will be able to aspire to a life that isn’t just riddled in an endless array of domestic duties.
Neha Bagaria is the Founder and Chief Executive Officer of JobsForHer.
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