Savita looked a little restless, when, her husband, who was new in the job. Introduced her as a ‘housewife.’ After three of his junior colleagues, introduced their wives as ‘career-wives’ in the office gathering that was celebrating the annual target achievement ball. Savita, later tried to dilute her lukewarm introduction by talking more about her academic career than 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, the 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 since then has moved on and there exist ample opportunities now for them. To create their own identity in the 500 million strong, Indian workforce. Where, 60% of Indian population is below 35 years of age and where 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? The answers won’t be that easy even if they are obvious.
By Kamlesh Tripathi
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