This post has been self-published on Youth Ki Awaaz by Youth Ki Awaaz. Just like them, anyone can publish on Youth Ki Awaaz.

The Changing Definition Of Work For Women

More from Youth Ki Awaaz

By Aarti Kumari:

When Betty Friedan said “The feminine mystique lies buried in millions of women” little did she know that time will alter, if not change, her words. Yes it’s true that the road to know about a women has no end, but surely it provides lot of bends. And ‘time’ always comes to the rescue whenever the path seems to make one look lost.

Women, the word seems to exist from time of which we have no track from when, but that little word always remained cuddled, wrapped in layers of mystery. When we travel back to old times, with a little help from our friend called ‘Imagination’, one can see the various pictures of women right from Vedic period till the modern day. From what she used to be – an over-all champion -from medicine, management (both at home and kingdom), spirituality or even on the battlefield. Name any field, and women always had a place for themselves. They also took pride in showcasing their abilities and skills, and always equaled with men. Time took its tide and turns and during the rise of Medieval period, women completely lost this status. In fact, they were considered as things, which were used at the leisure of men and their freedom was curbed. This period was supposed to be considered as the most tragic period for her, as the system of child-birth, female infanticide, polygamy, Sati and Purdah system were given birth to. Their strength and spirit went for a toss and her own beauty became her enemy. During these periods, women were confined within four walls under strict supervision from men and even her freedom of thoughts was caged. But it was from this period that we can still names of Razia Sultana, Chand Bibi, Jija Bai, Durgavati and Noor Jehan who braved and fought against their basic rights and crafted a name in field of literature, politics, education and even religion. During the British invasion when Indians were looked down as downtrodden, women had to face the brunt of racism apart from their own struggles. But few of them braved to come out of the shell and actively took part in the freedom movement. The years of endurance and sacrifice at last paved the way to enjoy the dawn of an independent India, which was a ringing bell for her own freedom too.

But despite independence, women were still chained in the names of tradition and age old evil practices. She was free to move, but only within the four walls and any door beyond that was sealed. She was given the basic educational right. Yet the priorities of giving importance to home always remained top slot. She was thrust upon with the responsibility of looking after home and catering to the needs to the members of the household, putting aside her thoughts or wishes. The only focus she had to move her eyeballs on was home and only home. Women took up these challenges and was moulded as a perfect homemaker. But when she saw her male counterparts at times struggling with petty issues in their work life, there spurred a thought in her mind, igniting the passion to try and walk on that same path, which she knew would excel in better than her male colleagues.

And thus was fought a battle again, demanding more freedom to choose her own career, to try to break the chains of early marriage, that would hinder her growth towards her passion for the profession. There was a tinge of rebellious spirit in this fight and she just wanted one result of it – her win. Slowly, the trend changed and women, though hardly handful, started to venture into politics, medicine, aviation etc where the entry was usually available only for men in those days. As these areas demanded hard work and devotion, not many women could come forward and convert their dreams into reality.
It was liberalisation and globalisation that swung the doors open. The corporate culture, which encouraged women employees, were thronged with passionate women who were eager to make a mark for themselves. MNCs, unlike Indian companies readily took in women employees, as they proved to be more efficient than her male counterparts or atleast at par.

This positive response and a promising future evoked many a women to chase their dreams and make their wish list into reality. Soon women started to explore areas which had been thought best only for men. There was sharp rise in the educational percentage and women actively took up the courses in professional or niche courses. Photography, wildlife, journalism, army, environmental science, RJing/VJing, tourism and travel are some of the fields that women took to explore and create their impression. Knowing that the challenges would double if they tread his path and that their brave spirit will be jolted by her rivals to shake their confidence, women continued to stick to her decisions and made sure to achieve what was in her mind.

Despite facing stiff competition and tiffs within the family and in the world outside, she took it up as challenge and showed her results that silenced the voice against here. It was the entry of IT industry that took the world by storm. IT became a dream career of many as its career ladder was lucrative and promising too. This seemed to be inviting and tempted women too. She hopped onto this field, which apart from being challenging demanded working late night / odd hours. To climb the success ladder, women were ready to be flexible, but the sudden changes in her couldn’t be absorbed by the society.

The late night shifts in BPOs posed a threat to her safety and security. A sharp rise in sexual harassment at workplaces, eve-teasing, rape cases made her give a serious thought which at times restricted her steps to move ahead. Also with a complete shift of her concentration on her career, the home life became imbalanced and it began to be taken for granted. The sudden change of a homemaker to a professional was unacceptable and that’s why a few more obstacles were raised for her to maintain a balance between the two if not complete dedication to family-life. Women still juggle to manage both and at times she is forced to make decisions choosing between the two.

Yet she keeps her faith and somehow manage to squeeze time out for her passion along with imposed duties. And as Bill Copeland says, “Not only is women’s work never done, the definition keeps changing.” True to his words, a lot of words have been replaced to describe women in an nutshell. Yet at the end of it either words fall short or her responsibilities, dreams/passion are too large to be confined in words.

Image courtesy:

You must be to comment.
  1. bibhash

    wow aarti !! u rock

  2. Kalpana

    Very true Arti, words are too short to define a woman’s dreams, aspirations and responsibilities!

    It was an experience reading your piece. Keep it up!

More from Youth Ki Awaaz

Similar Posts

By libbymaynard

By Nehal

By Alexander Zingman

Wondering what to write about?

Here are some topics to get you started

Share your details to download the report.

We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

Share your details to download the report.

We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

An ambassador and trained facilitator under Eco Femme (a social enterprise working towards menstrual health in south India), Sanjina is also an active member of the MHM Collective- India and Menstrual Health Alliance- India. She has conducted Menstrual Health sessions in multiple government schools adopted by Rotary District 3240 as part of their WinS project in rural Bengal. She has also delivered training of trainers on SRHR, gender, sexuality and Menstruation for Tomorrow’s Foundation, Vikramshila Education Resource Society, Nirdhan trust and Micro Finance, Tollygunj Women In Need, Paint It Red in Kolkata.

Now as an MH Fellow with YKA, she’s expanding her impressive scope of work further by launching a campaign to facilitate the process of ensuring better menstrual health and SRH services for women residing in correctional homes in West Bengal. The campaign will entail an independent study to take stalk of the present conditions of MHM in correctional homes across the state and use its findings to build public support and political will to take the necessary action.

Saurabh has been associated with YKA as a user and has consistently been writing on the issue MHM and its intersectionality with other issues in the society. Now as an MHM Fellow with YKA, he’s launched the Right to Period campaign, which aims to ensure proper execution of MHM guidelines in Delhi’s schools.

The long-term aim of the campaign is to develop an open culture where menstruation is not treated as a taboo. The campaign also seeks to hold the schools accountable for their responsibilities as an important component in the implementation of MHM policies by making adequate sanitation infrastructure and knowledge of MHM available in school premises.

Read more about his campaign.

Harshita is a psychologist and works to support people with mental health issues, particularly adolescents who are survivors of violence. Associated with the Azadi Foundation in UP, Harshita became an MHM Fellow with YKA, with the aim of promoting better menstrual health.

Her campaign #MeriMarzi aims to promote menstrual health and wellness, hygiene and facilities for female sex workers in UP. She says, “Knowledge about natural body processes is a very basic human right. And for individuals whose occupation is providing sexual services, it becomes even more important.”

Meri Marzi aims to ensure sensitised, non-discriminatory health workers for the needs of female sex workers in the Suraksha Clinics under the UPSACS (Uttar Pradesh State AIDS Control Society) program by creating more dialogues and garnering public support for the cause of sex workers’ menstrual rights. The campaign will also ensure interventions with sex workers to clear misconceptions around overall hygiene management to ensure that results flow both ways.

Read more about her campaign.

MH Fellow Sabna comes with significant experience working with a range of development issues. A co-founder of Project Sakhi Saheli, which aims to combat period poverty and break menstrual taboos, Sabna has, in the past, worked on the issue of menstruation in urban slums of Delhi with women and adolescent girls. She and her team also released MenstraBook, with menstrastories and organised Menstra Tlk in the Delhi School of Social Work to create more conversations on menstruation.

With YKA MHM Fellow Vineet, Sabna launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society. As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Read more about her campaign. 

A student from Delhi School of Social work, Vineet is a part of Project Sakhi Saheli, an initiative by the students of Delhi school of Social Work to create awareness on Menstrual Health and combat Period Poverty. Along with MHM Action Fellow Sabna, Vineet launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society.

As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Find out more about the campaign here.

A native of Bhagalpur district – Bihar, Shalini Jha believes in equal rights for all genders and wants to work for a gender-equal and just society. In the past she’s had a year-long association as a community leader with Haiyya: Organise for Action’s Health Over Stigma campaign. She’s pursuing a Master’s in Literature with Ambedkar University, Delhi and as an MHM Fellow with YKA, recently launched ‘Project अल्हड़ (Alharh)’.

She says, “Bihar is ranked the lowest in India’s SDG Index 2019 for India. Hygienic and comfortable menstruation is a basic human right and sustainable development cannot be ensured if menstruators are deprived of their basic rights.” Project अल्हड़ (Alharh) aims to create a robust sensitised community in Bhagalpur to collectively spread awareness, break the taboo, debunk myths and initiate fearless conversations around menstruation. The campaign aims to reach at least 6000 adolescent girls from government and private schools in Baghalpur district in 2020.

Read more about the campaign here.

A psychologist and co-founder of a mental health NGO called Customize Cognition, Ritika forayed into the space of menstrual health and hygiene, sexual and reproductive healthcare and rights and gender equality as an MHM Fellow with YKA. She says, “The experience of working on MHM/SRHR and gender equality has been an enriching and eye-opening experience. I have learned what’s beneath the surface of the issue, be it awareness, lack of resources or disregard for trans men, who also menstruate.”

The Transmen-ses campaign aims to tackle the issue of silence and disregard for trans men’s menstruation needs, by mobilising gender sensitive health professionals and gender neutral restrooms in Lucknow.

Read more about the campaign here.

A Computer Science engineer by education, Nitisha started her career in the corporate sector, before realising she wanted to work in the development and social justice space. Since then, she has worked with Teach For India and Care India and is from the founding batch of Indian School of Development Management (ISDM), a one of its kind organisation creating leaders for the development sector through its experiential learning post graduate program.

As a Youth Ki Awaaz Menstrual Health Fellow, Nitisha has started Let’s Talk Period, a campaign to mobilise young people to switch to sustainable period products. She says, “80 lakh women in Delhi use non-biodegradable sanitary products, generate 3000 tonnes of menstrual waste, that takes 500-800 years to decompose; which in turn contributes to the health issues of all menstruators, increased burden of waste management on the city and harmful living environment for all citizens.

Let’s Talk Period aims to change this by

Find out more about her campaign here.

Share your details to download the report.

We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

A Gender Rights Activist working with the tribal and marginalized communities in india, Srilekha is a PhD scholar working on understanding body and sexuality among tribal girls, to fill the gaps in research around indigenous women and their stories. Srilekha has worked extensively at the grassroots level with community based organisations, through several advocacy initiatives around Gender, Mental Health, Menstrual Hygiene and Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) for the indigenous in Jharkhand, over the last 6 years.

Srilekha has also contributed to sustainable livelihood projects and legal aid programs for survivors of sex trafficking. She has been conducting research based programs on maternal health, mental health, gender based violence, sex and sexuality. Her interest lies in conducting workshops for young people on life skills, feminism, gender and sexuality, trauma, resilience and interpersonal relationships.

A Guwahati-based college student pursuing her Masters in Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Bidisha started the #BleedwithDignity campaign on the technology platform, demanding that the Government of Assam install
biodegradable sanitary pad vending machines in all government schools across the state. Her petition on has already gathered support from over 90000 people and continues to grow.

Bidisha was selected in’s flagship program ‘She Creates Change’ having run successful online advocacy
campaigns, which were widely recognised. Through the #BleedwithDignity campaign; she organised and celebrated World Menstrual Hygiene Day, 2019 in Guwahati, Assam by hosting a wall mural by collaborating with local organisations. The initiative was widely covered by national and local media, and the mural was later inaugurated by the event’s chief guest Commissioner of Guwahati Municipal Corporation (GMC) Debeswar Malakar, IAS.

Sign up for the Youth Ki Awaaz Prime Ministerial Brief below