The Problems of Modern Working Women - Ayesha Liaqat

Throughout my childhood, I grew up listening to a bunch of stories from my grandmother about how well she had been trained by her mother to do the household chores and how they are primarily a woman’s responsibility. This is the basic education she needs to learn. The so -called modern school education won’t do her any good in the long run. All a woman needs to know is how to clean dishes, wash clothes, manage the house and, last but by no means the least, to cook. If a woman doesn’t know these essential errands, she is unworthy of being called a woman. These chores only belong to the women, “The Wives-not to the men”. Such tasks do not have any room for those who call themselves “men”.

Unfortunately, this culture still exists in the 21st century - especially in the subcontinent. A woman is judged by her physical beauty and her abilities to manage a house. It doesn’t matter whether she has done a PHd or is a successful entrepreneur, all her qualifications don't make any difference. The situation has gotten worse in our so-called modern society. On one hand, we expect women to be as beautiful, young and submissive as has been the tradition, while on the other hand we want a highly qualified doctor, a CEO, an engineer, and a professor. Along with all this she must have the abilities to manage a house, husband, kids and, above all, in-laws. The inevitable result is that many women find themselves overburdened by these expectations. Fact is that they are, and the situation is worsening day by day. Modern men have shifted many financial responsibilities to women which leads to imbalance. The point of discussion is that women are working very hard. While they continue to act as home-makers, modern day expectations give rise to the concept of “Modern Working Wives”. Unfortunately, these women receive little to no credit for the work to do. Instead, they are faced with constant backlash and shouldered with the responsibility of neglecting their homes.

Slogans like “Modern, Independent and Confident” for women aggravate the situation as well. It is not intended to say that women should not work. Actually they should, not just for financial needs but for their mental peace, and to enhance and polish their skills. The problem is that society has placed all its hopes on women, so much so that sometimes it seems unjust to them. After long hours of work, they have to give time to their kids and family. The end result is that they don’t have any time for themselves.

We need to understand the Job specification factor for women as well. What we expect from a teacher who works six till eight hours, we can’t expect from a doctor whose job does not have any specific time, especially when there is an emergency. In the same way, we can’t compare a woman who works from home to the one who has to go to the office from 9 till 5.

The point of discussion is that there is no comparison between working women as everyone has a different life and a different struggle in her own space. We need to stop comparing women with each other as each one of them has her own job demands. As a society, we should not compare them behind their back and need to realize that it is not about being better or less, it is all about having different lives with different circumstances.

The husbands and in-laws brag that they have “allowed” the women of their homes to work. But nobody considers how difficult a task it is. Working along with a family isn’t easy as it sounds. Only women can make it easier by supporting each other. Unfortunately, there are few women who support other women. The previous generation of mothers and older women seem so desperate to satisfy their own insecurities by putting their daughter-in-laws through the same struggles faced by them before. They believe that if something bad or unjust was done to them in the past, now it is right for their sons to do the same with their wives. If they see a happy couple, they would be more inclined to taunt or be toxic towards them. Often, they begin to compare and contrast their own experiences with those of their daughter-in-laws. Intolerance is prevailing rapidly. A few days ago, I heard a woman in my colony discussing her daughter in law's cunning, sharp and 'modernised' nature, and how she has assumed full control over her son. She then bragged about how she used to get up early in the morning just to serve tea to her mother in law, never daring to say anything to her in laws all her life. Finally, she asserted that these so-called modern wives do not have tolerance or patience.

First of all, everyone must understand that patience is good but it doesn’t mean that we must continue to endure injustice. In the olden days, when a woman got married, she was not told by her parents what she needed to tolerate and what she should not. When you keep enduring something for a long time, you think that it is right; you are born to tolerate injustice forever, so you end up considering it to be a tradition. This issue has become more psychological than societal.

The point of discussion is that women of todays’ era are conscious of their rights. They know very well what right they have been granted by religion. Women have forgotten too that they are working very hard, beyond their capabilities, and it has not been imposed on them by religion. Their first priority should be their families and kids. But what should a woman do if no one divides or shares all her responsibilities? Then she has to work outside to make both ends meet. And the problem continues. At the end of the day, it is not about being a feminist or a misogynist. We need to view men and women on humanitarian grounds and to understand the heavy responsibility which lies on women’s shoulders. As Napoleon said, “Give me an educated mother, I shall promise you the birth of a civilized, educated nation.”

New mothers must train and educate their sons to be well mannered, so that future women don’t have to go to Aurat March to fight for their rights. Women should not develop grudges against other women but must support and tolerate each other in order to bring vibrant change in society. Only in this way, we can stop our wives, daughters, mothers and sisters from becoming desperate enough to have to fight for their rights.

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