The Hindu – The woman’s role in the home and the role of her children is crucial to the overall health of the family, says a professor of human rights and development studies at New Delhi University.
According to Dr. Nilesh Gupta, “Women are not being seen as leaders in the family as they should be, and we are trying to change that.”
Dr. Gupta’s research, published in the New Journal of Psychology, was based on the work of more than 60,000 couples, both married and unmarried.
They all completed a survey, which showed a clear divide between women and men on the importance of their gender role.
“Women who felt more valued and wanted more involvement in the life of their family and children were more likely to feel comfortable having a woman as the mother,” said Dr. Jitendra Saha, who co-authored the paper.
“The relationship between motherhood and gender roles was not linear.”
Dr Gupta is a research fellow at the Centre for Advanced Study of Gender and Development in New Delhi.
“I wanted to explore how the way women interact with the family impacts their gender identity,” said the researcher, adding that his research was based in large part on interviews conducted with couples, and is based on data from the National Sample Survey on Child Development (NSSCD).
The survey, conducted by the Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore, in 2017-18, is conducted every two years.
It has a sample size of 1,000 people.
“It was interesting to see the level of engagement with family in the survey,” Dr. Saha said.
“We found that while most women felt they had to work harder to get the child into the home, a significant number felt that they had more power in the household.
They also felt they needed more time to be with their children.”
Dr Saha added that “there were many instances of women’s roles and gender expression being misunderstood, which makes it difficult for them to navigate the complexities of parenting.”
In one instance, the survey found that women who said they had “very little” interaction with their parents were more willing to spend time with their sons than those who said that they spent “quite a lot.”
Dr Nileshi, however, said that the survey showed that the gender gap was not about how much time women spend with their husbands, but about the gender role that women play in the marriage.
“What matters is that the child grows up in a home where they have a partner, and that partner is also a man,” she said.
This is because the study showed that “a strong woman’s gender role and her role in her family are the primary factors that help women to balance out their needs,” she added.
“As a result, a strong woman is often seen as the primary breadwinner, while a strong man is viewed as the breadwinner.”
In fact, the authors found that “even though women were not showing greater engagement in the social interactions, they were also more likely than men to report that they felt more pressure to stay in the house or work more hours in order to meet their responsibilities.”
Dr Gaurav Kaur, a researcher at the Center for Advanced Research of Gender, Development and Social Policy, in New York City, also cited the NSSCD survey.
“There is no one-size-fits-all model of motherhood, but what is important is that women have a role that is both meaningful and positive,” he said.
Dr. Kaur added that a woman’s own needs in the relationship, including what she does for her children, can also influence how she responds to the child’s needs.
“When you are the one in charge, you have to be ready for what is going to happen.
You cannot be waiting for something to happen and expect it to happen,” he added.
In the United States, the gender wage gap has been estimated to be $1,600 per year for women.
“While the gender pay gap is a very important issue for women, for the most part, we have not seen a concerted effort by policymakers to address it,” Dr Sama said.
But that is changing, with the government recently introducing a $15 minimum wage.
In a statement, Dr. Dattaturajan Raju, the President of the National Council of Women, said, “The study shows that gender equality is not only a human right but also a human imperative.”
“The key to women’s equality is to be aware of their personal and collective expectations of their role in a family, and to support them by helping them to build a healthy family and a sense of purpose,” he continued.