Gender sensitisation must start from childhood

Fatima Peter
Saturday, 16 December 2017

Riya and Raman are a modern day working couple. They are a financially independent couple who share most of the responsibilities of the family together. But when it comes to household chores of cooking, cleaning, washing clothes, keeping the household clean and childcare, most of the work is done by Riya. This story is not only about Riya or one working couple; this is a common scenario in most of the houses where most of the chores and childcare is done by women.

Riya and Raman are a modern day working couple. They are a financially independent couple who share most of the responsibilities of the family together. But when it comes to household chores of cooking, cleaning, washing clothes, keeping the household clean and childcare, most of the work is done by Riya. This story is not only about Riya or one working couple; this is a common scenario in most of the houses where most of the chores and childcare is done by women.

Many women these days take up jobs and are seen in working in many sectors but there is no change in the roles played by men in doing household chores. Across the globe, women are identified as ‘homemakers,’ the keepers of the family, who are responsible for the wellbeing of the children and the husbands.

A recent study says women in all age groups do more amount of unpaid work than men. Women put in more than double the proportion of unpaid work when it comes to cooking, childcare and housework. Men do less of such unpaid work, which includes adult care, child care, laundry and cleaning. The only area where men put in more unpaid work is the provision of transport - this includes driving themselves and others around, as well as commuting to work.

An expert in this field says our culture is such that the patriarchy of the work division of men and women is clearly drawn. Gender inequalities in all areas are rooted in our social structure and our attitude. In our society, men are supposed to go out and earn and spend the leftover time in leisure activities, whereas the basic responsibility of women is to take care of children and the household chores, even if she has taken up a job. Not only this, even many women feel that all the household chores and bringing up children are their duties, as many of them have seen their mothers or other women in society handling the job of household work and childcare single-handedly.

Especially post childbirth, working women go on maternity leaves but the trend of men taking paternity leave is yet to seep into the minds of many. The Paternity Benefits Bill 2017 is still in progress but some corporates do offer paternity leaves. So, post the birth of the child, many women find it difficult to join back to work as the responsibility of the housework and childcare gives them less time. And these factors have a long-term impact on the economic factors, particularly for women’s employment.

Also, if we look at the leisure time spent by men and women, men tend to have more leisure time as compared to women. As women are involved in more household work and child rearing along with their career, it consumes most of their time and they get very little time for themselves.

The other drawback of this patriarchal system is that it has a very negative impact on children, especially young boys, who grow up to think that household chores and childcare are not their responsibility. And the circle of gender inequalities in the society continues.

There are many factors, which decide why women should do more household chores that include culture, taboos, religion, economic stability and upbringing.

To handle this situation and bring in change, there is a need for awareness and gender sensitisation among families and it should start right from childhood. If children are educated about equal gender roles in schools and if they see equal gender roles played by their family members, they will accept the change more easily.

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