When She Comes Home
The role of modern woman is no longer how it used to be. Today, having to manage both the domestic sphere and the public life, she has to strike a perfect balance between home and work. The economic empowerment of women is being evaluated on many levels, and its sociological implications are a major area of concern. Women empowerment as it is in India, attempts to thwart the conservative notions and ideologies and therefore it is essential to define its relevance to multi-dimensional contexts, primarily on her relationships. While the family is faced with a challenge, women too have to struggle hard to cope with their newly-acquired roles along with their responsibilities towards their home.
Women contribute to household economy either directly (generating income) or indirectly ( causing savings ). It has been generally observed that economically empowered women demand more share in decision-making and other household affairs. However, this is not a very bright situation as it will be a farce if women’s empowerment is brought about at the cost of her unhappy marital life and shattered homes. According to statistics, working women are more maladjusted with their spouses than housewives. Probably this also accounts for the rising number of nuclear families, and joint families are almost on the wane. In order to deal with this win-lose scenario, as much as men should try to accept women as their equals, women also should make their best efforts to reconcile their viewpoint and expectation with those of her spouse and/or in-laws. Negotiating new roles in the household is important because around the world women spend more time in house-work and child-rearing than their male counterparts do (UNDP, 2007). While women’s public roles have changed dramatically in the recent decades, evidence suggests that there have been fewer changes in gender relations within the private sphere.
Women work in order to reap the benefits of her education. However, they should also not be ignorant or indifferent towards her family. The objectives of female empowerment can only be achieved in areas where men are also enlightened regarding women’s multiple roles, within and outside her home. Progress of both men and women are inter-related and cannot be separated. Daughters who are the only child of parents also to take special care that they do not neglect their parents.
However, women do need to be well-informed of her rights. The Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW Convention) was the first comprehensive Charter of women’s rights. It addressed these rights in a holistic manner and abandoned the public/private divide in the prioritization and placement of rights. It was also the first legal instrument, which in addition to defining equality and non-discrimination, also laid down that a state has obligations towards ensuring rights within the public and private spheres. It also recognized that tradition and culture either directly oppress women or are used as arguments to oppress women. This severely limits, if not ends, their access to human rights.
Within marriage, woman is given a distinct identity before law in society, that is constructed through religious, social and community perception rather than her identity per se. The personal laws which focus on marriage, divorce, maintenance, custody of children and inheritance, are mostly based on the different religious and traditional practices of the community, all of which are in accordance to the ideology of male supremacy. However, women need to exercise the right to make decisions in relation to whether she consents to the marriage, an equal say in the choice of residence, and in all other decisions, as an independent and empowered equal citizen. Her status or gender role as a ‘home-maker’ should not impede her healthy and secure life, with the access to exercise her rights freely.
A woman on her part should utilize the rights granted to her in a prudent and dignified manner. She should also realize her duties as a daughter, a wife and a mother, which are not to be blindly sacrificed at the name of empowerment. Women’s empowerment demands that both women and men change. It is not an end in and of itself, but rather a step towards establishing gender equality. According to the Beijing Declaration, “a harmonious partnership between men and women is a critical aspect of ensuring the well-being of families.”