Are you one of those who absolutely cannot see how your live-in boyfriend sits and chills with a beer, while you do the dishes? Or maybe you lost your shit over the recent Voltas ad for dishwashers, that was dissed for its sexist ideology? (“only women need dishwashers? what do they mean?!”) Well, if that’s right, you are one among the ladies who are so done with men getting their way with doing no household chores at all. One woman was so pissed, she started an online petition that urges PM Modi to tell men to share the housework. Well, maybe she thought her man would at least listen to Modi, if not her.
The online petition
The lockdown struck and suddenly the entire family was at home! Add to this the fact that the house help wouldn’t come to work, there was tons of work - dishes piling up, 4-course meals to be cooked, the laundry that was starting to smell, the dog that needed to be walked, gosh! those never-ending list of chores. The lockdown managed to reinforce gender roles in many homes. Subarna Ghosh from Mumbai, co-founder of an NGO called ReRight Foundation, was also a victim of this stereotypical norm. While speaking to BBC, she said that her husband a banker wasn’t the type to help with housework. Reeling under the strain of managing work and home, she finally decided to put an end to this and stopped doing the dishes to show her irritation. “The sink was overflowing with unwashed dishes and the pile of laundry grew bigger and bigger,” she said.
This was when she decided to start an online petition that urges PM Modi to tell men to share the housework. “Unequal distribution of unpaid household work has rendered the harshest blow to women across India during this lockdown. Yet, women’s care work continues to be invisible and no one wants to address this gross imbalance. If Mr Modi can inspire us to light lamps and clap in solidarity, he can inspire us to correct an unfair norm that discriminates against women in every home.” her petition reads.
Will the petition change norms?
According to a report by Oxfam, Indian women, cumulatively, perform around three billion hours of unpaid domestic work every day and if this domestic work was assigned a monetary value, it would add trillions of rupees to India’s GDP, according to the report. In India, tasks such as cleaning, cooking, managing the kids, are highly gendered. Patriarchal norms burden women into doing all the chores and entrench their unequal social status. Statistics shed light on this, suggesting that women in India currently spend up to 352 minutes per day on domestic work, 577% more than men (52 minutes)! Alarmed? Well, the ladies certainly are. Will PM Modi telling men to share the housework, actually change these statistics? One can only hope.
Meanwhile, Subarna’s husband responded to the petition saying that “in India, more men listen to Mr Modi than their own wives!” We hope so too!