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“You don’t even know how to light a stove?”

A few days ago, my neighbour asked my mother if she could heat food for him from his refrigerator. My family was stunned at his words but then she did help him. 

“How can he not even turn on the gas?” we wondered. 

An article from the Hindu shared, 92% women did unpaid domestic work compared to only 27% of men as of 2019. This significant difference in the data highlights that the patriarchal practices from the past are still continued. An Indian belief, the responsibility to complete the domestic work is of women and mens’ responsibility to earn. Women are expected to be accountable for handling their homes without getting paid for, for their family. This is unfair for them as these tasks involve efforts of women which deserve to be appreciated. I see a woman everyday who never rests except during the nights. I understand she has a huge family, yet, it must be exhausting. That exhaust can be easily distinguished when you see her. The weakening head tilted towards her feet, raw dehydrated skin barely handling the workload she has to repeat everyday. Without leisure weekends. 

Men exclusively earn by being employed for their family. Respecting both of their efforts to keep the home working, I question, is she the only person who eats in the house to be the only person to cook? 

I am a daughter from an Indian household. Since I was in fourth grade, the women I have been surrounded by encouraged me to help them in the chores. I was effortlessly influenced by them because that was what I had been seeing since my childhood. As I got older, those tasks started becoming more stringent for me. I do not like to do chores more than my willingness to do them, but my mother forces me to do so. Hence I have to work beyond my will, making myself discontent and preventing me from enjoying my childhood. Additionally sometimes, this borrows time from my study hours as well, impacting my academics. This does not only happen with me but many of my friends, and in my opinion there would be many more girls over the country struggling with mental health and academic pressure due to the responsibilities they hold. 

As young girls are brought up around this belief, this practice continues to reside in India. Adding up to one of the major issues, gender inequality. The United Nations defines gender inequality as the concept that males and females do not get equal treatment, conditions and human rights to be involved in the development of the nation. Such actions are commonly encountered in our country. This includes, who gets the right to make a decision in a family, to the female participation in political aspects of the country.

In our country where women contribute to almost 50% percent of the population, they need to work in order to have an effective and equal development of the nation. For this, women must be given independence and equal opportunities to reveal their talents, so that we can ensure the progress of India. Young children learn from what they observe in their surroundings and get influenced by it. Therefore, they continue to do similar discriminating and unequal acts, keeping the women vulnerable. 

As mentioned in the beginning of this article, men struggle to cook for themselves, and wash their clothes and dishes because they have never been taught by their parents how to do these tasks. Food, clothing and shelter are human’s basic needs which must be fulfilled no matter what, as their lives are dependent on them. I believe it is essential for each human to be capable of doing these household chores. They should never be dependent on anyone to manage their needs. If this is taken care of, issues where men have to suffer when women of their house are not at home can be avoided. 

Every parent has faith in their child to succeed in their life. And for that, they must raise them accordingly. While parents teach their children to live in this extraordinary world, they should not forget to teach them the duties of a primary human being who needs certain things in their daily life. Those are called necessities. If this is resolved, young girls will live healthily, every person would be capable of fulfilling their needs and a hint to a radical change could be expected. Parents should teach their children to understand the world around them, be empathetic towards the people around them and not only succeed but become a better human. And they will learn these skills only by starting at their homes. That’s how simple it is. 

Written by Pradnya Gaikwad

Pradnya wrote this article as a participant of the Media-Makers Fellowship's April'24 cohort.

This article was adjudged the 'Best Opinion' created in Week 3 of the program.

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