New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern is in the news for all the right reasons. She was the first female world leader to bring an infant to the United Nations General Assembly. Jacinda was at the UN to attend a peace summit, where she was accompanied by her partner, Clarke Gayford, the baby’s primary caregiver.
Two things caught my attention in this piece of news.
1. A lady takes her baby along to her workplace.
2. The primary caregiver is someone apart from the mother.
While we celebrate this news, it is also true that despite all odds, millions of Indian mothers, across social strata, don’t let motherhood affect their professional lives. The reasons may vary–from the basic sustenance of the family to following her passion, the love for the job, or just to work.
Here’s a look at three such Indian women who did not let motherhood dampen their spirit or sense of independence.
1. Renuka Chowdhury
This Member of Parliament has, on several occasions, spoken about the need for better baby-care facilities in the government sectors.
After her second baby was born, she would carry the infant in a bassinet and march into parliament to attend the sessions.
In this interview, she spoke about how it was not really accepted. “There was grumbling from some of the men, who said, ‘This is why we don’t bring women into politics’.”
However, nothing discouraged this young mother from doing what she thought was extremely normal. She went on to make a mark for herself in national politics without compromising on her role as a mother.
2. Kamana Gautam
A certified nutritionist and lactation consultant, this mother of two wears all her hats with equal ease. She told The Better India, “Mothers are considered to be the primary caregivers, even if they are an equal earning member in the household.
In my case, I decided not to work outside.
I also decided really early on that if I were to step out for any work-related event, I would take either one or both my kids along.” Kamana says this without batting an eyelid.
For her, motherhood is an extension of who she is and not something that holds her back in any manner.
Kamana was invited at an event, to speak to a group of students on motherhood, and she chose not only to take her 18-month-old along but also kept him snug and comfortable in the baby carrier for the duration of the talk.
She has attended several such events with her kids since.
3. Rohita Sachdev
This mother of three spent considerable time wondering how she would step out and resume work. When a family business opportunity came her way, she grabbed it with both hands. She told The Better India, “It has not been easy, but now that I have taken charge of things, I feel much better.”
Each morning, after dropping the kids at school, she heads to her furniture showroom. The kids come straight to the showroom after school and stay there with her until evening.
Rohita has created ample spaces for them within the showroom to make it as comfortable for them as possible.
“We have a small play area for my youngest one who is three-years-old. There is another room where they rest, do their homework and have their food. It’s a perfect little set-up,” she added, with immense happiness.
You need not be a public figure to deal with children in the workplace.
Even in an office setting, bringing children to the workplace is seen as being unprofessional. The sight of children in spaces that are usually not associated with them is what shocks people initially.
The first thought is–what are they doing here? This is serious business, not child’s play. Once the initial shock wears off, rationality kicks in. You may remember the scene in the film Baahubali, in which a nursing Sivagami holds darbar, or even the image of Rani Lakshmibai raging war with her son safely tied to her back.
Motherhood is a natural phenomenon. It is perhaps time to stop looking at it in any different light.
Here’s cheering on mothers all over who do everything with such aplomb.
(Edited by Shruti Singhal)