Kool Kanya News / Speaking Out

Petition Urging PM To Ask Men To Share Housework Gains Traction As Women Face Greater WFH Issues

. 4 min read . Written by Sanjana Bhagwat
Petition Urging PM To Ask Men To Share Housework Gains Traction As Women Face Greater WFH Issues

A survey conducted by Pink Ladder, a career enhancement organisation for women, has found that working from home has been damaging to women’s well-being and performance at work.

Survey Finds A Drop In Motivation, Performance, And Mental Health For Women  

The study, titled “Remote Working And Its Impact On Women Professionals”, surveyed 250 women across New Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai, Bengaluru, Hyderabad, Pune and Kolkata.

The results found that 4 in 10 women are facing dangerously high levels of stress and anxiety due to situations stemming from having to work from home.

While 67% of the women reported managers who respected timings, a fairly large section (33%) reported managers who do not.

With women having to balance household chores along with office workload, their mental and physical well-being is falling victim to this damaging “double burden syndrome”.

Image courtesy: ayoti.com

As several companies are extending work-from-home, many employees are confused whether they should continue working from home post the lockdown. For women, the study reveals that over 50% of the women surveyed are facing motivational challenges in the work from home situation.

There has been a drop in productivity, performance, and motivation for 75% of the women. This has led to the amount of time they take to complete any task extending as well.

However, the women are also aware about the current employment instability for women everywhere. Over 55% of job losses during these financially fraught times have happened to women.

The women are afraid that speaking up for work-life balance could put their jobs at risk.

A Woman Has Started An Online Petition Urging The PM To Intervene In The Unequal Distribution Of Labour At Home

Subarna Ghosh, tired of shouldering all the household cooking, cleaning, and laundry while simultaneously working from home, started an online petition asking the PM to “Tell Indian Men to Do an Equal Share of Household Chores in Your Next Speech”.

“Does the handle of a jhadu (broom) come printed with the words: ‘to be operated by women only’?” asks the petition. “What about the manual of the washing machine or gas stove? Then why is it that most men are not doing their share of housework!”

 With the goal being 75,000, the petition has already achieved 69,756 signatures.

 According to a 2018 report by ILO, women in urban India spend 312 minutes per day on unpaid care work. Men, on the other hand, spend 29 minutes. The lockdown, with longer hours spent at home and the lack of domestic help, has only intensified this disparity.

Ghosh, who runs a charity that works on reproductive justice, told BBC that her banker husband was “not the type to help with housework“. During the lockdown, she found that the expectation was that she would be the one compromising on her work.

She was exhausted and her work suffered during the lockdown. Seeing this, her husband eventually began to help with the household chores. “But our men are also victims of this culture and society. They have not been trained to do housework”

Girls on the other hand are groomed from a young age in household chores. The assumption is that managing the household is their responsibility, One they will continue to shoulder even if they choose to pursue careers.

The cost of this unpaid labour isn’t calculated. It is viewed as something women do out of love and duty.  

Friends of Ghosh’s husband made fun of him after she started the petition. “Why didn’t you just do some housework? Look, now your wife has gone and petitioned the PM,” they would say. Her husband, however, was unfailingly supportive and would reply that most men do in fact listen to the PM more than they do their own wives.

Not just friends, but several people online, have chided Ghosh for involving the PM in such “a frivolous matter”.

However, Ghosh believes that there needs to be more awareness and conversation on this issue.

“He has a huge support base among women, so he should talk about an issue that’s important to women,” she says. “When the rainy season started, he talked about cough and cold, so why can’t he talk about gender equality?”

If Not Dealt With Now, The Situation Poses A Huge Threat For Women In The Workforce

Karthik Nagendra, the co-founder of Pink Ladder, says that the pandemic has provided an opportunity for a new wave of gender equality, at home and at work. Men have the opportunity to share the workload at home, and managers – who continue to largely be male – have the opportunity to make their leadership more sensitive and inclusive.

“Leaders can make remote working more inclusive by developing policies that mitigate biases against female employees. Rigid work schedules, supervisor inflexibility, and lack of inclusivity pose enormous challenges for women right now. Coaching the male managers to develop more empathy for various roles a woman juggles during work from home, and sensitivity programmes for male colleagues to be more supportive within their families and work are two areas that need immediate attention,” he says.

He believes that a failure to handle this situation well right now, could result in a large number of women choosing to drop off from their careers. 

This would push back the little progress we have achieved in gender diversity and equality by decades.

You’re invited! Join the Kool Kanya women-only career Community where you can network, ask questions, share your opinions, collaborate on projects, and discover new opportunities. Join now.