As women in India begin focusing on their careers, they are encountering challenges that many American women can relate to.
Women in India, whether in farming communities or city centers, are backing out of the kitchen and taking steps toward becoming fully integrated and valued members of society.
As a nation we are witnessing a shift in their status, with more and more women working in the political, business and social arenas. But the question is this: when will women breakthrough in top positions and how will men respond?
It is now common to see women working in business or as lawyers, journalists, even as entrepreneurs. And men increasingly want to marry working women to help pay the bills or to prove a point socially that they are open – genuinely or not – to the idea of a woman being an
individual with her own rights, wants and needs.
State governments are encouraging women to start their own businesses and corporations are taking initiatives to weave in women’s financial independence in their ‘gender diversity’ agendas. The question of why are there so few women at the top positions in India has gone viral since the 2012 release of Randstad India’s Workmonitor survey, revealing that 76 percent of respondents believe there are not enough women in top positions in their organizations, even though 89 percent
of women want to take up leadership role.
[pullquote]Only when women begin to accept and live their new-found identities, will they be able to inspire a change[/pullquote]
This lack of leadership roles is one of the reasons why Indian women are leaving their paying jobs behind to branch out on their own. Many want to do something related to their passions, or are bored by their jobs in the corporate world. Others are choosing entrepreneurship because it allows them to continue to work, while managing their families. It can boil down to a simple question but quite a natural conundrum: Can one have an exciting, challenging and lucrative high flying career and still be a good mother and wife?
Changing roles of men
For most Indian women, their frame of reference is their mother, who was perennially involved in what it takes to care of a family. She’s a great cook, counsellor, tutor, extended family interpersonal expert and – let’s not forget – money saver. As modern Indian women carve out a new identity, they face the discomfort of choosing to be like their mothers or professionals who are okay with outsourcing it all, or something in-between.
This change in women’s identify is in turn looking for a change in men’s roles, which in India’s patriarchal society has been highly defined. Men mostly are accepting and adapting to it and welcoming women working. The question is how much they believe in these changing
roles and do they still hold on to the stereotypical duties of a woman?
Change has begun and the answer lies with women. Only when women begin to accept and live their new-found identities, will they be able to inspire a change to begin from the microcosm of the society – their home – and then the rest.
It is a mindset and belief change for women to manage the best of both the professional, and personal worlds, knowing when to choose one you and let go of another. There is no right or wrong; it is just what feels right.
This will not benefit only women, but India as a whole. As the former President of India, Dr. Abdul Kalam, once said “when women are empowered, society with stability gets assured…”
Women have already walked the mile; all we need to do is look forward and keep going.