Why Women Are Not Free When They Choose a Career or Their Family

Parents should have all the resources and support in order to make the best choices for their children. In an ideal world, yes. However, we don’t live in one and ask any parent, particularly mothers and they’ll tell you that the choices they made weren’t the choices they made out of freedom to do what they really wanted. Today, many countries including the developed ones have barely any provisions for working mothers and let’s not even talk about the sorry state of paternity leave, not to mention that a majority of organizations don’t provide childcare and many women are forced to give up their jobs, as a result. 

Women are left to feel guilty if they decide to continue working after having children and are also made to feel worthless if they aren’t contributing financially

Shani Orgad, a professor at the London School of Economics and author of “Heading Home: Motherhood, Work and the Failed Promise of Equality” sheds more light on how “choices” for women have been taken very lightly. “The language of choice is used to suggest that these women have choices, while the language that should be there is they have no choice but to,” she says. The fact is that the entire debate and conversation about work-life balance is actually distracting people from the bigger structural issues because women are left to feel guilty if they decide to continue working after having children and are also made to feel worthless if they aren’t contributing financially towards the home because they have now become stay-at-home mothers. “It’s extremely difficult to have a structural conversation about it. People say, ‘I just need to organize my life like this and make the right choices.’ Nobody’s saying, ‘I’m making choices in an impoverished world,’” says Kirsten Swinth, author of “Feminism’s Forgotten Fight: The Unfinished Struggle for Work and Family”. More importantly, making the choice has always been the problem of women and not men, although now the issues are slowly making its way to the top of men’s thought processes.

“Good women” and “good mothers” make the right choice and the right choice

Choices mean that women actually have the autonomy, however not all women do and this is true in countries like India and others across the world. However, there is also the problem of “good choices”; “good women” and “good mothers” make the right choice and the right choice is to put your family first. Although women for years have argued that it was never about choosing your family or trying to make it in their career, it was actually about making changes in the workplace at large. Women want men to be involved at home, policy changes and professional opportunities at work and affordable childcare; one cannot expect women to do all the pushing and pulling while men remain as they always have, then you wonder why so few urban Indian women are participating in the workforce. It’s not about making women work less so that they can be at home, but it’s about giving them the options and making the options good so that they won’t feel guilty whatever they decide to choose. 

Image credit: Medium

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