Trust me; our men need more protection playing such a dangerous sport. Their groin areas are so sensitive that a cork ball at the speed of 100 mph might ruin their chances not only on the field but off the ground, forever. Men should not be allowed to play any dangerous sport, including war. The abdomen guards that cricketers wear on the field should be distributed among all men, all the time. We need our men to procreate. Our civilisation or lack of it depends on it. Men’s abdomen guards make far more sense than women’s bras. Of course, we can decide later if they will come in lace or spandex.
Sounds ridiculous? Why should it? We have been letting women’s biology determine their professional lives forever.
In Maharashtra, contractors in sugarcane farms ask women to remove their ovaries before joining. They believe that menstruation is a hindrance in working at the farms. All women on the farms undergo hysterectomies which they pay for themselves and are only then hired at a wage that wouldn’t buy them peanuts, leave alone the sugarcanes they cultivate. It is also suggested that in reality, women have to remove ovaries so that they do not get pregnant from rampant sexual abuse at the hands of landlords and middlemen at the farms. Either way, it’s a human rights violation.
Ashish Pal, 25 joins one of the biggest MNCs in the country. He is happy with the terms of employment until the HR department asks him to undergo a vasectomy. It would be preferable if he surgically removes his private parts because sexual harassment at work is prevalent and removing those parts would altogether remove his desire to harass any woman sexually. What would this fictional character Ashish do? Oh, did I mention that Ashish is the only breadwinner of his family with an ailing father and two siblings still in school and also has a home loan dangling over his head?
Do you find this situation laughable? Then isn’t it worth shedding tears over, that for decades women have been asked to choose between working and becoming mothers? Ask a mother who has quit the corporate world. She would still be smiling, saying that this was a choice she made, to look after her children. But the truth is, it is mostly a choiceless choice.
With a society that expects women to be primary caregivers for children and family and a workplace that offers no or minimal support for a woman who wants to rejoin after childbirth, many women quit the workforce at mid-level management just because demands at both home and office become a burden that they have to carry alone. This is one of the primary reasons why we don’t see women in leadership roles. If we go into informal work sectors, the situation is even more dismal.
A man is never asked to choose between family and work. But a woman, even if she continues in the workforce has to take flexible hours, lesser pay, pass over promotions and opportunities that would help her grow just because of that one decision she takes – of becoming a mother. And the worst part, she is expected to do so.
Of course, women and men are built differently. Women menstruate, and men don’t. In 2017, media company Culture Machine offered the First day of period leave policy for their women employees. Of course, one could argue that this could be a part of sick leave, but the fact that a company spelt it out as not sick leave goes a long way in creating an inclusive work environment. This is not special treatment for women. This is what empathy looks like.
Last year, the government introduced 26-week paid maternity leave instead of 12 weeks. While the intention was good, the idea reinforced the fact that women are expected to look after children. The move was in complete lack of empathy with women’s work conditions.
Because it brought them into a vicious cycle where companies wouldn’t hire married women because of the cost to the company for paid leave and defeated the purpose of this measure.
This week, Zomato introduced 26 weeks paid parental leave for both men and women. They extended the policy to parents of surrogate and adopted children as well as to same sex parents. Team Kool Kanya that envisages an inclusive workplace for women applauded this move because this is what an equal society looks like. Yes, so far, it’s on paper but it is a step forward towards changing mindsets.
When society stagnates, we need to cultivate conditions for germinating new seeds of thoughts and that is what Zomato has done. We hope that shortly, the biology of a human being would not determine their potential or possibilities of who they can be.