This is a free guest post by Subi Nanthivarman, Founder and CEO at Stridez Pty Ltd (Start-up Company) about Female Work Participation. You can read more about Subi Nanthivarman at the bottom of this post.
The Key To Female Work Participation Lies In Our Homes
Some time ago I read a very interesting article on LinkedIn, speaking about the empowerment and equality for women written by Zain Khan I killed her. I was taken up by the passion Zain displayed in getting the scales more balanced for women. This was quite unusual for any man let alone an Indian one. Kudos to him for speaking out on this sensitive issue.
I also read that the rate of participation of female graduates in the work force is still very low in India. It seems so logical to make the best of the talents of so many wonderful women.
As I ruminated on this, it dawned upon me that change resides in the households of the Sub-Continent. I write about the Sub-Continent as I come from the region and understand the psyche to some extent.
If we live this change then wonderful things are possible. I am writing this article from observing women who overcame obstacles to become successful professionals. Not an easy task in a society where traditionally men did not do any house hold tasks. They probably did not know one end of the broom to the other and would not be seen anywhere near a kitchen. I think some of the traditions have carried on to my generation while others have changed due to an evolving environment and migration to the west.
What are some things that we can change in our homes?
Mums! The Prince of your heart needs to be grounded
We know what doting mums we can be. Nothing but the best for our sons. Many of us don’t let them do any housework and endeavor to delight their palates with delicious food. While this is great, especially for the sons, they grow up thinking all women are put on this earth to run after them. Reality may be different for some of them when their partner does not play ball. This attitude can continue into the work place, which in turn creates issues relating to how they interact with their female colleagues.
It would be a great idea if mothers can change this mindset. Ask the young man to help around with the chores in the house and its OK if he skips meals a couple at times because it is not to his taste. You’ll have a future daughter in law who will be very grateful to you for this. I speak here from experience.
“That girl will not find a husband. She is so outspoken and hates house work”
Parents! Your Daughter will find her way even though she is not demure
“She is such a Tom Boy. Only interested in sport. What will we do with her?”
These are some of the phrases that reverberate around non-traditional girls in the Subcontinent. In this fast changing world there is a place for a girl who doesn’t fit the girly mold. There is a future out there for her to rise and shine. There will be a partner who will cherish her for what she is. There is no point extracting wool from a cow. Celebrate her strengths and support her to be the best she can be. It will be hard to break tradition and hear others say hurtful things about her. She will be so grateful for your support and will find her way forward.
Husbands! Support your wives with activities outside the home
It’s OK if your wife has to attend an official function in the evening. Her reputation will not suffer because of this. You’ll bond with your kids when you spend some quality time with them. If she has a pet interest that she wants to pursue support her. Prioritise her music or art class over your need to hang out with your pals on a Saturday evening or take the kids to their classes on a Saturday morning. The kids see that you make time for what is important for your wife. This way they understand Mum has a role that is greater than caring for the family and being the role model of sacrifice.
When such change is embraced by more households, female work participation will not be viewed so strangely. These are the cultural norms that we need to shake up for change to become a reality. Looking at some of the young around the major cities in the Subcontinent this may have already occurred to some extent. What I am not sure is if this change is more embracing the western culture as opposed to modifying some of our questionable Subcontinental behaviors. For the older generation like myself standing firm in our traditions while embracing change is so important. I would love to hear from the young if this is going to work for you.
The way out of the current impasse in female participation is in our hands. Change is inevitable.
Let us choose how we change while keeping what is quintessentially the Subcontinental Culture.
Love to hear your views. The more conversations we have on this topic the better it is for our future generations. We have to unleash the hidden potential of so many of our women.
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About Subi Nanthivarman
Subi is an accredited coach of the Institute of Executive Coaching Leadership and has completed a course on Authentic Leadership at Harvard Business School. Subi is a Chartered Accountant with sound commercial and operational experience which covered functions such as supply chain, quality and commercial management. She has also managed large and diverse teams as a senior executive in the Pharmaceutical industry.
Subi used her knowledge and the experience she acquired together with her ability to understand others’ perspectives to develop the content for Stridez.
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Subi Nanthivarman is the Founder and CEO at Stridez Pty Ltd (Start-up Company), an accredited coach of the Institute of Executive Coaching Leadership, a Chartered Accountant with sound commercial and operational experience.