“Juggling nine balls”- 7 October 2015.

One icon of Indian woman leadership, once said that ‘there is a difference between how men and women think and react. If a man is praised for his success he takes all the credit for himself and if a woman is praised for her success she inevitably gives it all to her husband and family’! She cannot thank them enough for being there for her and providing all the necessary support that she requires. But this is exactly the point we want to make. Both men and women will need the support of the family to become successful. Men would need a family that takes care of the infrastructure that feeds him, loves him, cares for him during times of bad health and calamities, frees him of the other responsibilities and spares him his time to work hard and devote his energies to whatever he aspires for. A man would also get supported financially by his parents and family if the need arises.

Similarly the woman would also need such support if she wants to have a career whether in the form of a job or even better an entrepreneur. She would also need domestic help and someone to care for her child when she is away or in times of her own ill health. She will also need financial help and support of her family or her husband whoever is capable and willing. But in a traditional system she is most likely not to get it. In all probability she will get a raw deal as no one wants to share in the domestic chores. She has to learn to juggle the tasks like a juggler with nine balls. There are a whole set of taboos operating for the lady to venture out in the open to make her mark. First of all she is generally asked to take care of her domestic responsibilities and then conduct her business. She is to finish her chores first and then go out to work. Hence when a specific family helps her share the burden or helps her by relieving her of the domestic chores she feels terribly obliged to her family. She cannot thank them enough! She is obliged to them from the bottom of her heart. She in fact feels guilty that she is neglecting her duties and burdening someone else with her jobs. She has been trained and indoctrinated with traditional roles which she has internalised deeply. You have to be a good wife and a good daughter in law and a good mother. All roles have to be played to the fullest and to the best of your capacity is the expectation. That is asking for too much really.

One woman describes a career woman as ‘a man with a womb’! What she meant was perhaps that a career woman works almost like a man to make her success of her career but also has the responsibility of a womb. This is a huge responsibility no doubt and can curtail her movements for a fair period of time. This is the time when she is vulnerable physically, emotionally and needs enough support to go back to work after the gestation period. Families who want the woman in-doors make it very clear that her place lies there.

But we want to change all this social programming. Young girls must see bigger dreams and challenge their own mindsets. They must know what they want and what they want to make of their life. They fortunately have the choice to settle for being a home-maker or they can choose to make a career for themselves. They should convey this to their parents and solicit their support. For those who want to make careers, supportive and understanding parents can do wonders to stand behind their daughters like solid rock to edge her to keep going forward. They can train their daughters for independent thinking and action, for sublime goals, for better choice of relationships in future. Such girls should choose men with modern mindsets and make a good family life too based on mutual respect, trust and values. I know many families where this is already happening. If a father stands up for his daughter and gives her the courage of conviction the daughter is truly blessed, for it is he who can face the world bravely and ward off evil designs of others. He can provide her the comfort of his strength to help her develop her capacities to the fullest. Many mothers nurture such dreams for their daughters but cannot stand up for them if opposed by the others in family. A huge responsibility hence lies with the father of girls.

Are modern minded fathers of daughters listening?


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