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Working women in India

Although, we all like to think that India has become more welcoming to women who are working outside the home, there are some fundamental problems faced by working woman, as was the case even two decades back.

No one can deny that Indian society is still patriarchal in nature, and men are still considered the sole “bread-winner of the family”. We’ve been enjoying the benefits of being an independent nation for the past six decades. According to the Constitution, that means, men and women must be considered as equal.

However, women started enjoying equal rights only just before the start of the new millennium. Moreover, this is true especially for women in the urban areas of the country.

Rural women, who form the majority of the Indian female population, have yet to catch up with the concept of professional work, although women there are used to working in farms and cottage industries.

Let us look at some of the basic problems faced by working women in modern-day India.

  • Acceptance As Working Professionals
  • Most Indian men are yet to come to terms with the fact that women are also capable of working with them, shoulder to shoulder, in any field or professional sphere. They still visualise women as individuals who should be in charge of the kitchen and other domestic affairs. Work is either seen as a temporary evil for women whose husbands do not earn enough, or the domain of women who do not “know their place.” As a result, Indian working women do not get the respect they require from their male colleagues in the workplace.

  • Balancing Work-Family Life
  • No matter how high their position or designation is in the office, women in India are still viewed as the family manager back home. They are expected to return home at a certain time, cook, clean and take care of family affairs. In fact, men who help out around their house are often the butt of jokes by their male friends. This makes life extremely stressful for women who have little help around the house and have to do it all.

  • Travelling For Work Is Not Acceptable
  • One of the problems faced by married working women is that they cannot travel or go on tours without having to answer uncomfortable questions by most of their friends and family. This is especially true for married women, who also have a flourishing career. Their professional obligations often depend on the support and understanding of family members. A married man can go on long official tours outside his home city, without raising eyebrows and questions from his family members and peers, but his equally-successful wife would face disapproval. As a result, women often have to opt out of jobs than involve travel or settle for not being promoted as a result.

  • Safety Of Working Women
  • The “nosey questions factor” aside, there is still the concern for safety of working women who need to travel on official business. Women travelling out of their home city for work trips are considered vulnerable and an easy target to fulfill the lewd intentions of their chauvinist male colleagues. Checking into a hotel alone is one of the problems faced by working women, even if the trip is purely official. Many hotels refuse to allot a room to a single woman (under strange pretexts) because of their own safety concerns or if a woman decides to stay alone, she is viewed with suspicion.

  • Unequal Pay
  • One of the raging topics of discussion in the context of problems faced by working women (not only in India, but also in many other nations) is that of equal pay. Legally, a woman is entitled to get the same salary as their male colleagues for the same kind of work done by them. However, gender discrimination is rampant as many companies still do not adhere to these guidelines and pay women less than their male colleagues. Do you agree or disagree with this assessment of the problems faced by working women in India? Do you have something to add? What are the issues you or your friends have faced?

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