Women have been fighting many battles for long and this time is no exception. Let us take care of the elderly, the children and be kind yet strong
You never know how strong you are until being strong is the only choice you have,” goes a famous saying. It resonates with the situation that the world is going through now and echoes the emotions that all of us have been experiencing over the past few months due to the pandemic and the subsequent lockdown. The new work from home routine, along with managing home schooling, parenting and household responsibilities are forcing us all, particularly women, to stretch our time and strength to the limit. The numerous tasks are lined up like dominoes every day and each role commands meticulous precision and cautious treading, lest one incorrect step creates a devastating cascading effect.
As the pandemic confined us to our homes, the constant feeling of being overwhelmed kept coming back. And as I looked around and connected with other mothers and working women, the same sentiments were echoed by all. However, women are not frail creatures mentally. Right from Jijabai, the exemplary mother of the Maratha warrior king Shivaji, to Jacinda Arden, the youngest Prime Minister in the world who was lauded for her effective leadership in pandemic management in New Zealand, the examples of strong women are far too many. In fact, Arden saved her country from the serious repercussions of Covid while also fulfilling her responsibilities as a nursing mother of twins. Young mothers can relate to her as they juggle between working for or leading organisations, nurturing children and managing homes and careers. We all can really try and do the perfect “balancing act.”
Women across the globe experienced a profound shift in their lives as the unprecedented circumstances led to a loss of normal routines and managing tasks with an intensity that never existed before. Tasks that had previously been distributed among various stakeholders, including grandparents, house helps and even schools, have fallen squarely on parents and even more disproportionally on women. But women have risen to so many challenges before as well. It is the unique ability that women have of empathy, trust and effective communication that has led them in managing this uncharted territory. Women have a whole mix of life’s experiences with them, which makes them the right candidate to take charge of this pandemic. They become fiercely protective of their families and specially of their children and it is this attitude in the midst of the Coronavirus outbreak that has stopped many women from venturing out of their homes without a solid reason for it.
The resilient core of women and their empathetic outlook towards society make them strong individuals and it is precisely because of this reason that seven out of every 10 health workers are women, says a World Health Organisation (WHO) study. But in all this chaos lies an opportunity to learn. Seeking help from the family and their cooperation in managing everyday jobs is something women will have to do. Even a “supermom” cannot do everything alone. One cannot expect the work of a parent, teacher, homemaker and a working woman to be accomplished in the same 24 hours with outstanding results. This time away from school has also given parents, particularly mothers, an opportunity to train and guide their children and make them step up and take on more responsibilities. Dividing household chores, setting up rewards for completion of dedicated tasks or even applauding their efforts would go a long way in inculcating a sense of responsibility in young minds.
We must thank the world for allowing technology to be an integral part of our lives today as it has played a key role in helping us to adjust to this new normal. It made life bearable during the lockdown by keeping us occupied with entertainment, enabled communication and made accessibility to education and the necessities of daily lives easy, at the click of a button. Not only that, technology has aided millions in keeping their jobs and meeting their professional commitments by allowing online access to work and managing responsibilities without having to venture out.
The outbreak has not only changed the course of lives of people all over the world but has also created a humanitarian revolution that will lead to the emergence of better human beings globally. We have great opportunities to be humane today, be it towards our loved ones, families, co-workers or even a stranger on the street struggling with life’s problems. By serving, helping, giving to others and by taking time out for ourselves, going back to the basics and respecting nature, Covid has made us evolve as humans. It is important for women to support other women in these trying times. Women have been fighting many difficult battles for long and this time is no exception. Let us together take care of the elderly in our families and around us, nurture children, take care of the men and be compassionate yet strong.
(The writer is Chairperson, Amity Humanity Foundation and Amity School of Film and Drama)