As a new father, I am experiencing the absolute delight of parenthood right now. Having a daughter felt like one of the greatest blessings bestowed by almighty. It’s a feeling which simply can not be expressed in mere words. Becoming a parent also made me realise the vast difference between the sacrifices a mother makes to have a child compared to a father. By nature, the process of having a baby defies the mother physically and emotionally.
On the contrary, for the father, it’s not that complicated. The best he could do is to be there for her and help her get through this long journey in all ways possible. A journey which requires a lot of patience, perseverance and plentiful trips to the hospital. And finally, after a dramatic climax, you receive your bundle of joy. With this big promotion to parenthood, life as you know it will change forever. Now both the parents will feel that the difficult phase is over and the way forward of raising a child is going to be an easy breeze. But it’s not!
The process of raising a child is very complicated in this day and age. The changing social equations, nuclear families and inadequate laws and policies all add up to it. As a father, even though one wants to spend more time with their newborn, the societal pressure to conform to traditional gender roles and the perceived impact on their careers are keeping them away from the shared responsibility of parenthood. Therefore, childcare becomes the sole responsibility of the mother forcing her again to make numerous sacrifices for the benefit of her family. Especially for working women, this beautiful blessing of motherhood is turning into a burden. This needs to be fixed. It’s high time we take a more in-depth look into this problem and make some systematic course corrections.
Gender equality in society will result only when there is equality at home and workplace. Unequal sharing of childcare and the parental policies which enforce it are the biggest barriers we are facing today. That’s why I fully support the initiative by MP Rajeev Satav to introduce Paternity Benefit Bill in parliament, to bring about this much-needed reform in India. This bill will help reduce the pregnancy/maternity discrimination at the workplace, women returning to work will be more likely to stay, and the gender pay gap will ALSO close over time.
I firmly believe passing this law will be a tipping point in our journey towards becoming a developed nation. I hope we have a future where the blessing of a newborn is an equally enriching experience for both of the parents and not just a burden on the mother.