The way women have stormed the male bastion is heartening on the face of it. There is hardly a career option that women have not taken up and proved that they are as good as, if not better, than men. Feminists should be proud of what they have achieved in terms of gender equity. However, instead of being happier, women today seem to be leading more stressful lives. Young girls are encouraged to be competitive, career-minded and financially independent. As young women they start equating career with fulfilment, while getting married and having children is often seen as wasting their lives.

Family vs. career

Sitting across my table at a popular coffee shop is a young woman advising her soon to be married colleague not to get pregnant. I get the feeling fertility is a disease. When the contraceptive pill was first introduced, it was a triumph for working women, a symbol of liberation. Women then were keen to get on it; today we know the side effects include “blood clots, diabetes, depression or anxious emotional states” and many women are keen to get off it.

Is the family of any significance in today’s world, where women often give paramount importance to their career? I quit my job, because the satisfaction (and money) did not justify leaving my young one with a maid. The juggling act between the home and the job would leave me exhausted and stressed. The security of having a stable marriage, a spouse who is extremely supportive, accommodating and totally committed to the marriage and the fact that in case of any eventuality, the family finances had been planned helped me to quit.

Friends advised me to get back to work and warned me of having an “empty nest syndrome” once my son moved out for higher studies. Does that mean that I neglect my son for the first 17 years of his life? I am happy and satisfied with my decision to remain a stay-at-home mom.

As I move around the locality we now stay in, I notice that only cars and drivers at the school busstop at pick-up time. I still cherish my son’s happiness on finding me waiting at the bus stop. He and I would then walk the short distance home hand-in-hand.

He would fill me in with his activities in school-studies, friends, games, et al. I would tell him about my day and although he is much grown up now we still continue and enjoy this ritual. I treasure my bank of such happy memories. The pride and satisfaction I get when I collect his academic report is far greater than the satisfaction I got from collecting my pay cheque.

Measure of success

Why is staying at home treated as a misfortune and domesticity a punishment? Money paid for goods and services adds to the economy but do raising children and supporting the family have no value because money is not involved? It is said that a healthy child is neutral to the country’s economy but a sick child is good for the economy. A woman’s contribution in terms of housework has no effect on the economy. But what is paid to hired help is included in the calculation of the country’s GDP. Are money, career, and power the only measure of success? Family, health, love and memories should count much more. Shouldn’t feminism mean greater power, freedom and, above all, greater happiness for women?

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