Now and then I binge-watch old episodes of the Oprah Winfrey Show
and on one specific episode, she was talking about a trip to Africa. She spoke about how every morning in the rural areas they would drive down the road, and she would carry money with her, handing it out to every woman she met along the way. Oprah said she’d pass by plenty of women carrying buckets of water on their heads, something they did daily.
As much as I was inspired by her generosity, it was something else that stuck with me; she said that women do most of the work in most parts of the world. Whether we accept this to be true or not, it’s still something worth pondering. Every day, millions of women worldwide work hard to care for themselves and their families. In the developing world, women cook for hours on end on an open fire. They take care of their children and grandchildren, harvest fields, just to mention a few.
The set-up is different for the modern-day urban woman around the world, although they work just as hard. Many work 8 to 5 jobs, and still come home to more work; taking on most household responsibilities.
When women joined the workforce, things never really changed on the home front. Many had to figure out for themselves how to go about executing both roles, and have been doing it ever since. As demands increase to fulfill these roles, women can get overwhelmed spending so much time taking care of everything and everyone around them that they often forget to take time for self-care. This is not healthy; you cannot function on Empty. Yet, somehow society is OK with its backbone working under these conditions.
Society expects women to be machines but we are human. We get
tired, stressed, and we burn out too.
No matter how exhausted women get, many are stuck in these societal prisons, unable to do anything to change the situation. Most of society believes, because this is the way we have found it, this is the way it ought to be. Many men aren’t even bothered to see their women slaving off.
Why would they be? I mean it’s convenient for them; they don’t have to lift a finger doing any chore.
Women, we need to be kinder to ourselves. No one will remind us. Take
some time for self-care if you need it. You need to take care of yourself before you’re able to take care of anybody else.
I read this in an article on Forbes.com: “Women are taught (both overtly
and subtly) that they are the ones who must handle familial duties, even if it is to their detriment. Changing this shouldn’t just be on women’s
shoulders. Women and men both need to fight back against these traditional gender roles. If you are a woman with a male partner, talk to them about how this imbalance affects you. Start creating a more egalitarian distribution of duties at home. It won’t happen overnight, but continue the conversation every day and get your partner on board.
Men: educate yourselves about this imbalance and why it matters, and start doing your part at home and at work.”
Ladies we need to be deliberate in how we raise the next generation of men for our society. Let’s teach them that it’s okay to help your partner around the house; this doesn’t make you less of a man. Teach them to be less dependent on the women in their lives.
The World Economic Forum predicts that global gender equality won’t be achieved until 2133, about 112 years from now. So, we have a lot of teaching ahead of us.
Paula Christoph’s column concentrates on positive and inspirational write-ups every second Friday in the New Era newspaper.