“Festivals are fun for kids, fun for parents and offer a welcome break from the stresses of the nuclear family. The sheer quantities of people make life easier: loads of adults for the adults to talk to and loads of kids for the kids to play with.” – Tom Hodgkinson, British writer
Of course, festivals can be joyous occasions. People dressed in their finery, a colorful and happy atmosphere, accompanied by a variety of delicious food. These are the times when you rejoice, put aside the worries of your routine life and celebrate your culture. And for all the women in the house, this is when they have a new addition to their already stressed lives – pre-festival hassle. This anxiety includes, but is not limited to, finding the right kind of flowers, the right length of garlands, the right amount of sweets, the right ingredients for special dishes, the right time to do the right things, and so on.
All around the world, women are at the forefront when it comes to such merriment – be it braving the traffic and weather to go festive-shopping, orchestrating the celebrations from dawn till dusk, or paying attention to the nitty-gritties for a perfect day. And why not, they are experts when it comes to planning, executing, fasting and celebrating. And also tolerating all the taboos they are subjected to during festivals or otherwise. Below the surface of these female-dominated male-centric festivals lies a persistent problem – that of playing second fiddle to the men in their family.
To lead but not allowed to lead
At a macro level, women are closing the gender gap in education and entering professions that were previously dominated by men and are making an impact. But at a micro level, they are still fighting patriarchial norms. This aspect is particularly seen when women have to put a stop to their career aspirations after marriage or motherhood.
A study conducted by Harvard Kennedy School and the Institute for Financial Management and Research in India found that ‘...women had [to] quit [the workforce] due to family pressure and marriage related reasons.’ Furthermore, BBC.com reported a 2015 survey which found that only 18-34% of married women continued working post childbirth. This falling engagement can be attributed to the fact that rarely do companies make special allowances to reintegrate women after their maternity break. A very small number of employers provide flexible working hours or daycare facilities to working mums, making them quit their jobs.
How about working from home?
Even if these women want to restart their career, or opt for a flexible working arrangement, the lack of favorable opportunities make them hesitant to join the workforce. However, times have changed. There are various opportunities available online. One search on the internet and women can find forums that connect them to companies that are looking for part-time or freelancing individuals.
eWomen is one such initiative that provides great opportunities to talented women who are ready to work, and helps them shape their career. All of this, while managing their marital responsibilities. It focuses on testing and upgrading their skills to help them advance in their professional field. eWomen’s rigorous company verification process ensures that these talented women are connected to genuine companies, thus avoiding their exploitation and emphasizing on long-term associations.
Making space for their ambitions
With so many positive changes taking place professionally, isn’t it imperative to let this positivity seep into their personal commitments? It’s time to let women be at the forefront not just during festivities, but also in all walks of life. Let their expertise in planning and executing shine in their professional aspirations too. And most of all, allow the celebrations to actually offer a break from the rigors of nuclear families, rather than pile on more stress.
Festivals need to be a celebration of our glorious culture and traditions, which recognize women’s right to individuality and free choice. After all, that’s how most of these actually began – as a concern for women who had other challenges. Let’s make some space for women and respect their choices now, shall we?