Last month, a group of women who call themselves Fleximoms converged to share their experiences and tribulations of having given up their jobs after years, even decades, of full-time paid employment. A majority of them had done so to raise a family, a step their husbands would never even have considered. Some joked about missing their cabins and business cards. Others admitted they were ashamed of the label ‘housewife’ and had no response when people asked them what they did all day. A few had more serious self-esteem issues and the relentless need to pull themselves out of an empty depression every morning. Having kids, then, not only cost them their jobs and career, but their very sense of identity that they had built over years of high-powered jobs.
A section of those women, however, chose to see this gap in their careers as a ‘fountain of creativity’. Instead of mourning their losses, they went on to create a new professional profile for themselves, attempting things they would never have considered before. Natasha Badhwar, a former NDTV reporter, went on to make films, write poetry and teach. Anita Vasudeva, a writer and business consultant, used her seven years off from a 30-year career to freelance and stay in touch with the industry. Kiran Manral, a former full-time journalist, authored her first novel as a stay-at-home-mom. None of them regretted giving up full-time jobs. And now that they have discovered the pleasure of working at their own pace, none of them wish to go back either.
This generation of Indian women is unique in that we were born in an age when women were still expected to be the primary homemakers, but were brought up in a globalized world where careers and a steady income are paramount to one’s sense of identity. While straddling both worlds, we sometimes falter or fall. But mostly we swim, rise and negotiate our way through the rivers of social evolution.
This Women’s Day, we celebrate this female resilience, this innate feminine strength and noble guile. Be inspired.