A few days ago on 8th March it was International Women’s Day and this year’s theme was #BreaktheBias. I came across so many articles talking about how to #BreaktheBias in our work place. I have been working in the corporate world for about 16 years now and I completely agree that we still have to make many changes to get gender equality, but it made me think about gender equality at home or in our society.
Is it not important to #BreaktheBias at home and have shared responsibilities?
I felt it was important for me to share my thoughts on this.
5 years ago I got married to a Kai and decided to leave my whole life behind in India and relocate to Germany with him. For me this was a very natural decision, it’s always the woman who has to relocate when she gets married.
One year into our marriage we decided to get pregnant, again a very natural thing for me in our society: You get married and the next logical step for any married woman is to have a baby.
So we welcomed our first son into this world, it was beautiful and somewhere the independent working woman was replaced by a mother who could only think about her child.
I have no regrets, I have enjoyed every moment of being a mom, but just like that three years passed and we decided to get pregnant again.
But this time during my pregnancy I started missing the woman I was before I became a mother and before I got married.
Getting married and having children seemed like I was expected to make all the sacrifice and all the responsibility was on me.
I feel blessed that I am married to a very understanding man, who without me telling him my problems and how I felt decided to apply for 11 months Elternzeit .
What is Elternzeit:
In Germany parents are allowed to take up to one year time off from their work to take care of their children. This scheme can be used by both the father or the mother, but as our society teaches us: It’s a women’s job to take care of the children and it’s a man’s job to work and earn money, hence hardly any father takes much time off.
And I think you need to be brave enough to apply for it, the reason I use the word “brave” is because our society is still not ready to accept that men can also stay at home and take care of kids.
But Kai changed this thought process, decided to apply for 11 months and as expected everyone around us started questioning his decision.
I still remember people would ask: Why do you want to take such a long parental leave?
He would say my wife left her country, her family her friends basically her whole life to come and stay with me. This is the least I can do for her, it’s hard to manage two kids and I would like to help her to be an independent working woman again, too.
People have questioned him if it is his job to take care of kids, change diapers, feed them, shower them, and he has only one answer: They are my children as well, hence they are my responsibility, too.
I know it’s very hard for my husband to take this stand for me, but I am glad he did. I feel we need more of such men who can stand against the society and question the role responsibility of a man and a woman.
Let’s #BreaktheBias and normalize shared responsibility.