The everyday superhero: How women juggle multiple roles everywhere, every day
As we strive towards creating an equal society and giving the women in our homes and our offices the respect they deserve, raising awareness about the importance of life insurance is an essential step.brand stories Updated: Feb 26, 2018 13:19 IST
Every day, before Kavita Sharma (36) leaves for work, she ensures that her two children are safely off to school, and her husband has his breakfast laid out on the table. Her responsibilities don’t end there. As soon as Kavita, a Noida-based schoolteacher, returns home, she tidies up the house, helps her children with their homework, and cooks dinner for the family, before preparing for yet another day.
The life of a modern woman, whether she is working or single, a mother or a wife, is multi-faceted. In addition to the above, there are several other tiny responsibilities that women like Kavita tend to take on, which are often overlooked and not accounted for. For instance, doubling up as an electrician in case a bulb goes kaput or sending the car in for maintenance. Additionally, considering the fact that managing homes and children is a full-time gig without any paid holidays, overtime compensation or day-offs to show for, this feat seems even more remarkable.
The economic value of domestic labour
Unfortunately, domestic labour, which refers to all work required to maintain the household, is not accounted for in the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP). A report released by the United Nations in 2017 stated that over 51% of the work done by women in India does not receive monetary compensation. Household work also serves as an obstacle for many women to look for job opportunities. “The work done by a mother or a wife is always taken for granted. That’s not how it should be,” says Shaheena Yasmeen (52), a Lucknow-based associate professor.
Let’s consider this objectively: A majority of Indian households would be lost without the organized planning of the women who run it. From ensuring that their family members are nourished, healthy, and on time for all their appointments, moms also take on matters of household budgeting, payment of bills, and planning the weekly grocery list and meals. In times of sickness, they double up as nurses and physicians, while during exams and class tests, moms take on the role of tutors and guides. Even in households that have domestic staff, women are still the ones delegating the distribution of work, negotiating their holidays and salaries, and sorting conflicts whenever they arise. These roles are not too different from those undertaken by HR managers, office administrators, and executive assistants – and yet, a woman undertakes them daily, without salary or holidays.
The cost of a happy home
In 2014, the National Sample Survey Office (NSSO) revealed that close to two out of every three Indian women are, in their prime working years, mostly engaged in unpaid housework. Another study conducted by the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development in 2012 stated that women in India spent 94 minutes more time than men on an average on total work every day.
Unfortunately, that’s just the way society operates, with its tendency to place more emphasis on paid employment rather than recognising intangible contributions like childcare or fixing up the house. This is not to say that all women should now file invoices for all the tasks they do through the day. Nearly all of the moms and wives interviewed over the course of this article denounced any discussion of ‘salary’ when it came to their household responsibilities: “I wouldn’t even dream of being paid to manage my own home; that’s silly”.
The objective here is not to demand that women be paid for the tasks they undertake, but rather to recognize how society has long since overlooked the time, effort, skills, and intelligence that women bring to the table in order to run a household smoothly. We are quick to shower accolades on the virtues of motherhood—how self-sacrificing, unconditional, and pure a mother’s love is, but often tend to overlook their efforts, abilities, and talents as they go about their day—even as these same skills are in high demand across several industries and job markets.
Maybe it’s time to replace that clichéd Archies card on Mother’s Day with a more thoughtful understanding of their daily contributions?
Appreciating the ‘value’ of effort
So, how do we ensure that the women in our lives are appreciated, valued, and regarded for their diverse efforts at home? A good place to start – besides offering to share the load whenever possible – is to talk to them about life-insurance. There are a couple of reasons pointing in this direction. Firstly, having one’s life insured is one of the most basic and essential requirements for any adult with dependants. Thus, as far as moms are concerned, life insurance is pretty non-negotiable given the range of their impact on the well-being of their families.
Secondly, in many households, women are often not insured because they do not have ‘traditional’ jobs with salaries. This is short-sighted thinking. Women who are homemakers may not officially have a ‘job’, but the value of their contributions to the household can nonetheless be assigned monetary values. In this respect, therefore, they are far from unemployed; rather, their consistent performance is what keeps most homes running. In the unfortunate case where something happens to her, the rest of the family would be in shambles—not just emotionally, but also physically and financially as they struggle to fulfil the gaps her absence would inevitable throw up.
Both these points indicate the degree of value and worth that women bring into the house, and consequently, the importance of getting them insured. “Life insurance is a must for every woman. Although emotional loss cannot be quantified, life insurance will compensate for the family’s financial loss in the event of an unforeseen situation,” says Swati Mukund (29), a Mumbai-based fashion blogger and mother of a four-and-a-half-year-old.
Alarmingly, however, many women in India either don’t have adequate life insurance coverage or, worse still, have no life insurance coverage at all, says a survey conducted by the NSSO. As we strive towards creating an equal society and giving the women in our homes and our offices the respect they deserve, raising awareness about the importance of life insurance is an essential step.
Anjali Malhotra, Chief Customer, Marketing & Digital Officer, AVIVA Insurance has this to say: “I strongly believe that now is the time for women to be bold for change. It is imperative to break the barriers of gender and to celebrate womanhood. The strength of a woman is immeasurable and her contribution towards transforming a house into a warm home is invaluable as she plays different roles in the lives of all those who are connected to her. Thus, it becomes imperative to insure every woman adequately in order to protect her family against the uncertainties of life”.
Whether you’re a hands-on mommy thinking about applying for insurance coverage or an appreciative partner shopping for policies for your wife, the good news is that you can now do so easily and from the comfort of your home. Besides, you don’t need to break the bank to get ample coverage as there are several plans and policies, expertly crafted for women and mothers, which can be designed according to your preferences and budget. Find out more here.
First Published: Jan 15, 2018 13:42 IST