“To Achieve Gender Equality, We Must Change Our Own Mindset” was written by SWE Member Aishwarya Dubey.
Someone forwarded the Amul’s cartoon paying tribute to women “working from home and working for the home during COVID-19 lockdown.”
At first, I was thrilled that someone was being thoughtful and showing appreciation for the efforts we are taking to deal with the situation. I even forwarded it to all my friends and family. But then I realized what was wrong: that cartoon enforces the stereotype that women are warm, supportive, nurturing caretakers who are supposed to cook even if they are working.
It reinforces the traditional view about how women are supposed to contribute at home, and I believe it is holding us back. To some extent, the new generation of men has started accepting gender equality at work but somewhere deep down they may still believe that they are doing their wives a favor by contributing to household chores.
Men are not entirely to blame. It is also us! If we continue to support these views and accept these types of tributes, then we are encouraging society’s vision of what women’s life at home might look like during this difficult time. It is evident that our beliefs about gender are strong and sticky. Sticky to the extent that somewhere even I feel guilty about letting my husband do the dishes when I am cooking.
I strongly believe this is getting in our way of social change—where men can cook and take care of the home and women can go to work and earn for the family.
It is on us to encourage and support this change. We need to stop encouraging the “too feminine” behavior in order to be more respected in society. We may unintentionally undermine ourselves by continuing support of such stereotypes.
To help promote gender equality, here are four behaviors I am going to change going forward:
- I will not feel guilty about having a messy house or not cooking at home (or taking restaurant food to a potluck dinner).
- I will strive for a fair division of labor at home without feeling guilty about it.
- I will stop judging my peers based on the amount of time they contribute to housework.
- I will strive to support my peers at home and at work.
Finally, here is my version of cartoon: