India is no longer the land of snake charmers and Elephants. Urban India is a modern, educated society that has undergone a huge transformation in the last two decades. While it has opened up numerous opportunities for all Indians, the impact on Indian women has been huge.
Till a generation ago, the women were restricted to their homes. A lot of them were educated. Save for a few liberal families, the whole idea behind a woman’s education was to find a man who would accept her as a wife. Very few women pursued higher studies or ambitious careers. Today, the women in India have a world of options. They have even ventured into traditionally male dominated careers, from engineering to aviation.
The society on the whole encourages and even celebrates their achievements. And yet, every single day they struggle to maintain a balance. One of the mail reasons is that in India, the woman is still expected to run the household, she is still expected to be the primary care giver to the children and the elderly. No one says it, but they all expect it. There is a famous interview by Indira Nooyi, Chairperson and CEO of PepsiCo where she recounts an incident that demonstrates this Indian mindset. It was the day she was appointed to the board of PepsiCo. She rushed home to share this wonderful news with her family and the first thing her mother tells her is that they were out of milk! Her husband was home, equally tired by a long day at his work and yet, it was she who was expected to get the milk. This causes a daily struggle in the lives of these women. The ones who focus on career are said to be neglected their family and sometimes, their kids. Even when they assemble and train a fantastic support staff, they get to hear things like, “No one can replace a mother”. The ones who give up on their career aspirations for the sake of family are said to lack ambition and take the easy life. A modern Indian woman has to go through a lot. Yet, she is unstoppable.
The financial independence that the career brings them goes a long way towards building their confidence! Once they realise that they are not dependent on anyone, they are bolder and more willing to voice out their feelings. They contribute to the family income and hence have the right to partake in the importance decisions the family takes. These were things that were traditionally handled by the man of the family or the elders. These women can rely on their experience, knowledge and education to add a value that was not thought possible earlier.
The best part about the educated women is that they question conventional beliefs and challenge status quo. The exposure that their education brings them empowers them to think and form their own opinion. They inspire many around them to do the same. These women go on to instill a modern thought in their children and are slowly bringing about a change in the very way Indians think.