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An Outcast in my Home

Women in urban India are stressed. They are not only doing work outside the house, but also work full time at home. Saving the extra money to give the latest playstation game, the bike or i-pad to the children studying in upbeat schools, they have to prove themselves again and again at home and at work.

All the usual pressures of work like meeting deadlines and office politics are there in an Indian woman’s life, she also has to combat taunts and prejudices directed against her because she's a woman. Then, she comes home and has to explain to her husband and in-laws why she is late from office. All hospitality and catering to unannounced guests, upholding of traditions and customs, following religious ceremonies and rituals, looking after ailing grandmothers-in-law and extended family, relatives and husband's colleagues...the list goes on. When would she keep herself updated so that she can get her promotion due at office? When does she get time to soak her feet in warm water and pamper herself? She hardly sits to have a leisurely cup of tea. Housework, kids' schoolwork, maid problems are her responsibility. If Indian women are supposed to be superhuman, they should damn well be treated like goddesses and not sexually harassed at office and behaved with like doormats at home! Stressed she is and will be, until Indian men can swallow their pride and not just dig into the salaries of their wives, but also give them the dignity that their women deserve.

I decided to stand up against this, at the age of 23, a year after my marriage. In an affluent family with a supportive poet-husband whose sensibilities of artistic freedom transcended that of a common man, I decided to protest. And became a veritable outcast in my own home. Today, 25 years after my coming into my marital home, I still have not been able to make this my own home, I am fighting on, refusing to bow down to traditional concepts of the perfect daughter-in-law of the house. Yes, I have lived my life on my own terms and become ostracized by the members of the family I married into. I fight on, and my daughters are carrying on my legacy of fighting to change one’s own life, for society will change when each woman will learn to stand up for herself.

Comments

Kim Crane's picture

Goddesses

"If Indian women are supposed to be superhuman, they should damn well be treated like goddesses and not sexually harassed at office and behaved with like doormats at home!" Well said :)

Monika Pant's picture

Thank you for appreciating,

Thank you for appreciating, Kim. I understand that in such societies which are developing at lightning speed and women are getting more and more liberated, the male ego is very precariously balanced and after years of dominance, they find it hard to swallow when women fight back, not just for freedom to work and go out, but also to be individuals in their own right.

Myrthe's picture

Thank you for sharing your

Thank you for sharing your story. Your daughters are getting a good example from their mother and they in time will pass it on to their children. That is how change starts - with one person.

pheebsabroad's picture

Well said

Women all over the world tend to shoulder a huge burden in all sectors of society. It is important that we stand up together, for one another because it is through us that change will happen! Best of luck and well spoken!

Pheobe

Monika Pant's picture

Thanks for understanding.

Yes, wherever they may be, women are just learning to exercise their rights in every sense of the word. There are so many meanings to personal freedom, so many facets that in all societies, people raise eyebrows if women decide to flow against the current, be the unconventional one or decide to do things differently. What is called unique in a man is often called weird if the same trait appears in a woman. Women are supposed to fall in, and in many places cease to be individuals once they marry into a family. And in places like India, it is still believe that it is the woman who makes or breaks a home. The onus of responsibility is always the woman's, let us empower ourselves with that responsibility, let it never be the fetters.

ccontreras's picture

Us Women are Much Stronger

I really admire your courage! I believe you will be able to make a difference for your daughters, actually you already are by being a part of this network of women. Us women are hoping to see a world where equality will truly exist between men and women, and it could soon happen as more and more women stand up for our beliefs and ourselves. I wish you the best of luck and thank you for sharing!

"I embrace emerging experience. I am a butterfly. Not a butterfly collector." - Stafford

Monika Pant's picture

Thanks for your inspiring

Thanks for your inspiring words. Sometimes people appreciate others for doing a courageous act like rescuing others from danger...that's commendable no doubt, but it is nice being appreciated for rescuing oneself from the danger of living a life one does not believe in.

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