When a young lady gets a job, she is understandably elated. She has visions of spending the money, buying goodies for herself. But if her pay packet is essential for the house fires to burn, she will be contributing towards it, not spending it on herself.
Many young women from well to do families, come for work. Most of them do so for getting some spending money, or it is a waiting period for them. Till they marry and relocate. But many young women believe in their career, have a definite plan and work towards achieving their goals. They are committed to their career, and will prefer to work even after marriage and child birth.
Many young women, from middle class families, hand over their income to their parents. It could be used for the family or saved for her marriage. She is given some pocket money, mostly her lunch will be packed from home. She can have an occasional treat, her parents will indulge her with some money to eat out with friends. She can indulge in new clothes more often. But she cannot express an opinion, it will be termed arrogance due to the fact that she is earning.
I have met many young ladies who complain of this. The boys in the home are given special treatment, they may or may not earn. But these young ladies do go out and earn, but still do not have the freedom to express an opinion. The brothers themselves will put them down.
Many of these young girls may or may not continue working after marriage. There are combinations here, the girl may not want to work, her husband will want her to. She may want to work, her husband will want her to stay at home, care for him, his parents and children. She could be committed to a career, but not get any support from her husband. She will slog it alone at home and at office. In fact many men make lives difficult for such women.
I had a client who is well qualified and earning well. She earns more than her husband. He sulks due to this, and does not help her in child rearing or in household chores. In fact he makes sure she has more and more obstacles. She was offered office accommodation near the workplace, he promptly put the kids in a nearby school. He did not want to shift to her official residence. She has to travel long distance, or the option is give up her job. She knows if she does that, she will be treated worse than dirt. So she is pulling on.
Many women suffer at home, many do not. Each is an individual case. No two cases are the same. There are women who finish up all the housework, leave their very young children at their parental homes, and them come to office. Their husbands could be the sharing kind, they pitch in and help where ever needed. Many women do all the household chores, leave their very young kids in a creche, come to office, and when they return home, they face an irate husband. He is upset over something, he takes his stress out on her.
Such women have no where to go, so they quietly suffer all indignities. Their only solace is work and their kids. Their husbands could be earning, or not. But will establish their authority in the house and will not tolerate their wives taking charge in any situation.
Then there are women who work and return home to be pampered. The family at home, will wait on them and they enjoy all the attention. Lucky ladies!
Many working women are forced to use public transport and if they are late because the bus is late, they lose a part of their salary. Not all are able to afford an auto rickshaw or a taxi. So they take to leaving their homes early, change buses before reaching office. Their salary is essential, either for the smooth running of the house or it is expected by the husband or in-laws. They leave home early and reach home late. They need to then look to preparing dinner, prepare for the next day and also attend to kids and rest of the family.
The weekends will be filled with extra chores, all that they had postponed during the week due to lack of time. Special dishes need to be prepared, visiting has to be attended to and prepare for the next week. If they carry home office work, they find they are hard pressed for time to finish it. Normally the husband will relax, though it is not the norm. There are husbands who will pitch in to reduce worktime and make sure their wives relax and rest.
Working women also face a lot of problems at their workplace. Some face sexual harassment, and have to put up with it quietly. Many have irate bosses, who shout more than talk. Some bosses are rude and can make personal, cutting remarks. Some colleagues too make life miserable for the women. These colleagues can be men or even women.
Most corporate offices have provision for lady employees to hire a cab if they work after eight at night. But for this the boss has to sanction it. If a boss does not feel like it, she has to depend on public transport. Not only she will arrive at home late, there is the question of personal safety.
Most of these harried women cannot afford to take leave when they are sick. They would have exhausted their leave for sickness of the family members. So they trudge to work and spend miserable time. Many of these women have to answer to suspicious husbands, they need to account for their time, hour by hour.
And when a working woman is pregnant, unless her family/spouse/colleagues/boss is accommodating, she will have a miserable time. Her emotions will be on a pendulum and she will also be physically tired. But she comes, does her work and leaves without complain. She has three months maternity leave, if she takes leave before delivery, she loses that much time with the new born. She will have to tear herself away from her new born and come to work.
So many women work as close to their delivery date as possible. I have seen fully pregnant women travel in crowded buses, trudge into office to work. They find sitting down difficult; their feet swell up. And standing gives them pain in the legs. I admire such women, they display such fortitude. They go through all these discomfort so that they can utilize most of the maternity leave after delivery.
Most offices now offer flexi time, and work from home facilities for new mothers. This is a blessing. Women who come to work out of compulsion, may not really enjoy their work. Many come to work so that they have a change from their home routine. It is better to work, be with colleagues, rather than with in-laws!
I know one lady who quietly does all the household chores, except the cooking. Her mother-in-law cooks and packs her lunch. This food can be cold, spicy, bland, or even turn sour by the time she eats. But she does not complain. She feels there is no point. Actually she is supplementing her husband’s income. So why is she putting up with this? The reason is avoiding conflict. A girl has to sacrifice her needs for the family, so if she complains, it means she was not brought up properly. That is the values instilled in her are not right. Can you beat that?
Each working woman has her own story to say. Many are happy, coming to work gives them an identity. They feel good they are earning members of the family and can afford better life styles. Financial decisions may be shared or the husband takes on that role. There is stress at home and at office. A housewife has stress at home, but a working woman has stress all over. She has stress at home, while traveling and at office. There are deadlines to face, newer responsibilities are added, the work time increases; public transport is crowded, there can be harassment there, and they could also miss the timely bus.
A working woman does not have the luxury to go for an exercise regimen, or even meet a doctor. I am not talking of all working women. But a majority who travel long distances have no time for themselves. Waking up half hour early means loss of sleep for them. As it is they are doing with less sleep on an average, and if it is suggested they wake up a little earlier for exercise, they will just tune you out. Maybe the remedy is to provide exercise at workplace with an option of working out for at least half an hour.
I think those who travel long distance have the commute time for themselves. They read, listen to music, catch up with friends on the phone or even dose off. An average, middle class working woman is a tired lady. She will have at least one child, in-laws and many guests who visit often. Also her family social life will be hectic; she will be expected to attend all family functions. She has to prepare for all festivals, prepare at least a couple of special dishes, make sure the home is clean and all have new clothes. And who does the shopping? She does.
At home people will have preferences in food, which she has to cater to. She does not get to watch television, may take in an occasional movie. She could prefer to sleep at home.
In the office, if she is late, she misses part of her salary. She can be shouted at, her lunch hour gets swallowed in meetings and she may not be able to leave early. She needs to plan her next day, and by the time she hits the bed, she is so tired, sleep eludes her. She is unable to switch off her mind, there could be so many important things to perform the next day. She will need to juggle her time, and soon she ages before her time.
Given a choice, unless she is a career woman or escapes to work from tortures of home, a woman will prefer to be a housewife only. At least she can have a couple of hours of rest in the day. Even if the work is heavy, she can pace herself and snatch some tea and well earned rest for a few minutes.
A working woman truly rests when she goes on a vacation. Which can be not so regular. It could be home town visits, and when she visits her parental home, she slips into her childhood. She is able to just up and relax, her mother will pamper her. She can sleep, her children and husband’s needs will be taken care of by her parents. She can actually crawl back in the womb, (metaphorically speaking) and here she gets to entirely recharge her depleted battery.
I have met several working women who say their over riding desire is to sleep. Such a simple wish, but so difficult to fulfill. She does not yearn for a luxury cruise, or a jungle safari. Just a passage into dreamland.