Till Lauer/The New York Times

Let’s talk about the unpaid labour of South Asian mothers this Women’s Day

By:
Roshn Rakshit (@roshni_rakshit)

I was 11-years-old when for the first time I encountered a friend’s mother villainizing another friend’s mother for her son’s bad behaviour in school. I was a lot younger when I started to notice how women in the role of home-makers were treated in their own homes.

Unfortunately, from then until now, neither scenario has changed all that much.

When a woman assumes the role of a mother and a home-maker, she functions as an important provider and nurturer for her family. 

And yet when we look around us, particularly in many South Asian families, we see women who despite being key to the functioning of a family, are often pushed into secondary positions. 

For those who do not “work” in the workforce, they are often considered below men, just because they are not bread winners of the family, despite the hours of unpaid labour that they contribute.

On the completely opposite end of the spectrum, are working women, who despite having an income are also looked down upon for not taking enough care of their family. 

Not only that, while working fathers typically get away with facing the repercussions or blame for the bad behaviour of their children, working mothers are never spared. They are more often than not, demonized and held responsible.

What does this tell us about the society we live in? Especially in 2021 as we are intending to celebrate the strides made by women of all backgrounds? 

What strides have we made in our own homes?

If anything, this question reveals the hypocritical nature of our society. 

It is sad and scary that even today, we fail to cherish the women in our lives for who they are, their aspirations, and their individual dreams and goals. 

I have often wondered what and who my mother would be, had she not taken up the role of my mother. 

Our women take up roles, either willingly or unwillingly, and we all forget that even outside of these roles, they are individuals with their own personalities, needs and wants. 

What do we teach young girls when they grow up in a society where women are so often either the victim or the villain? We take away the freedom of choice to be an individual who is neither. 

Patriarchy is so deeply embedded in our culture that we forget to take care of the women who nurture us in various ways, especially with so many thankless tasks. It is deeply reflective of how society treats women in general. 

Despite the progression of time, women are still seen in a position below men and are often given no power -- even within themselves. 

And when women do try to come out and step to power, they are not only called names , but also deeply shamed, for expressing their true selves, or for daring to want something different, something more. 

We are so accustomed to the idea of women in holding roles, that seeing them want to break free of those roles makes us deeply uncomfortable.

As always, however, change begins at home.

I truly believe that one day we will finally begin to see and celebrate women -- all women -- for who they are. But it needs to start with our mothers at home. Because while we give our applause to the many women making big strides in society, we have to remember the many women, and specifically mothers, who also deserve their applause, for doing all that they do without such a celebration.

On International Women’s Day, we celebrate the often invisible and unpaid labour of mothers, who are often the backbone of our households, who don’t get nearly as much recognition as they deserve.

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About the author: Roshni is a self-proclaimed Comedy Queen who specializes in laughing at her own jokes. Her hobbies include making people smile, watching movies and analysing them, reading books, practicing yoga (occasionally), hogging on well-cooked biryani and scrolling through dog videos and memes on Instagram. Her love for writing stems from her love for art in general, which is fuelled by her background in theatre. Catch on her instagram at @roshni_rakshit daily, where she regularly shares her experience with movies and occasionally offends people with her political sense of humour. 

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