By Kamlesh Tripathi
Savita looked a little restless when her husband, who was new in a job, introduced her as a ‘housewife’ after three of his junior colleagues introduced their wives as ‘career-wives’ in the office gathering that was partying around the annual target achievement ball. Savita later tried to dilute her introduction by talking more about her academic career than her career as a homemaker. But it got me thinking while I was standing in a corner. What is the future of and Indian housewife?
Oxford dictionary defines a housewife as a married woman, whose main occupation is caring for her family, managing household affairs and doing housework: the traditional division of labour between the husband as breadwinner and wife as housewife. Chambers on the other hand defines housewife as a woman who looks after the house, her husband or partner, and the family, and who often does not have a paid job outside the home. Merriam Webster describes a housewife as a married woman who is in charge of her household. But in urban India we generally refer, a housewife as gharwali, a person who manages the house but doesn’t have a career. And in converse a husband is called a gharwala, but he bloody well has to go out and make a career.
But, tables have turned in India now where things have really opened up for women especially in the urban areas. Be it education, skill development, entrepreneurship and the works. Traditionally, Indian women were tied to their homes and families as part of family tradition and also because there weren’t too many opportunities. But India has moved on since then and there exists ample opportunities now for them to create their own identity in the Indian workforce of 500 million strong; and where 60% of Indian population is below 35 years of age and each year 10 million additional jobs are required to keep the young Indian population afloat . So then the big question is will the 21st century woman in all her vanity and egomania love being called a housewife or a career wife?
India loves following the west. So let’s take the American workforce per se. It comprises of 47% female workers and 53% male workers (a close race) and therefore Supermom is not a myth after all, and Super Dad is beginning to become a realty in India (Vodafone campaign).
Last but not the least will the existing housewives (many now mothers) of India prefer their daughters being addressed as a housewife or a career wife and what about the husbands—a housewife or a career-wife and what about the wives—a house-husband or a career-husband? Well-well, answers won’t be that easy even if they are obvious.