My kindle took a vacation from me and is currently in Hyderabad. I had no option but to go to the local bookstore and pick up a few books. One of those books was Unbound.
Gita Aravamudan is the author of the book, Unbound, Indian Women @ Work. This book has stories about women at the workplace. The stories are from varied professions, IT, film industry, hospitality and social services. Gita has divided her book into different sections. In Unbinding, it is about women, who had to come out of the four walls of their home, to fend for their families and to elevate their social status.
Dr. Vatsala Samant, headed the hospital built by Pandit Nehru, in Allahabad. She married an Airforce Officer. A busy doctor and a roaming Airforce officer is not a good combination for work-life balance. Vatsala’s daughter, Sameeta decided to be a stay-at-home mother. Sameeta made this decision because she missed having a normal mother. Due to weird quirk of fate, Sameeta lost her husband at age of 42. Sameeta had no other option but to work, to support her kids. She became a busy mother too, but out of necessity.
Another story is about Sumati, who is from the third generation of domestic service providers. She worked hard, to become a telemarketing agent, and released the family from the bondage of domestic service.
In Husbands, Babies and Motherhood, Gita writes about women who quit their jobs after having a baby. After the gap, they excelled in a completely different field. Neeta, worked as a software engineer for ten years. She took a break for four years after birth of her first and second child. After the break, she entered handicrafts business and became successful. Riti, a journalist took a break from a full time journalism career of twenty years to spend with her daughter Amala. After the gap, she founded an enterprise, Riti’s Murder Games, which conducted proactive murder mysteries. A Chief sub-editor at Indian express became a Radio Jockey.
In Perceptions, Gita wrote how society perceives men and women and how it affects a woman’s life. The concept that man is the bread winner is ingrained in Indian Culture. It is the primary responsibility of a man to take care of his family, whereas it is not the responsibility of a woman. Hence a woman does not need her job as much as a man does. During the recession, in 2009, women were given more pink slips than men. In one of the stories, a manager has fired his woman employee and asked her to see it as an opportunity to spend quality time with her kids.
New Delhi based journalist, Nisha Susan George and her three friends started the pink chaddi campaign. The idea was to collect pink chaddis from all over the country. The pink chaddis were sent to Pramod Muthalik and his men on Valentines Day to spread the message of love. Pramod Muthalik was the founder of Rama Sene. In 2009, his men barged into the pub Amnesia and beat up a group of young women to straighten them up. They were fanatics who viewed women’s independence as threat to the existing patriarchal structure.
Being an Indian working woman, I could relate to the stories that Gita wrote in her book. On the occasion of Women’s Day, I would recommend women to read this book. It has overwhelming and inspiring stories about ordinary women like you and me and their extraordinary journey through life.
Background modified to include the picture of the book.