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Women & the pandemic: A new balancing act

– Pooja Chauhan, practicing chartered accountant and financial advisor, Amity Education Group and chairperson, Amity School of Film & Drama and Amity Humanity Foundation (AHF)

There is a famous quote “You never know how strong you are until being strong is the only choice you have”. It struck me just how much these words resonate with us amid the current circumstances induced by the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The new work routine along with managing homeschooling, parenting and household responsibilities among the numerous other tasks are lined up to be tackled every single day. Each role commands meticulous precision and cautious treading because one incorrect step can create a domino effect.

For me, juggling career and home has been the norm for several years now ever since I took charge of the philanthropic activities of the Amity Humanity Foundation and was busy setting up a new institute, Amity School of Film & Drama. This coupled with making use of my Chartered Accountancy qualification as finance advisor to the  Amity Education Group and taking care of my joint family, I thought I had mastered the balancing act. Yet, when the pandemic struck and confined us to the four walls of our homes, the constant feeling of being overwhelmed kept coming back.

As I looked around and connected with other mothers and working women , the same feeling was echoed by all. From Jijabai, the exemplary mother to Jacinda Arden — the youngest prime minister of the world who was lauded for her effective Covid 19 management strategy in New Zealand — the examples are far too many. In fact, Jacinda Arden saved her country from the serious repercussions of Covid-19 while also fulfilling her responsibilities as a nursing mother of twins. I’m sure many more mothers like me can relate to her very well as we juggle between leading our organisations, nurturing children, managing home and work. We all can really try and do the perfect ‘balancing act’.

Women across the globe experienced a profound shift in their lives as the unprecedented circumstances led to a drastic change in normal routines and they were called upon to manage tasks with an intensity that never existed before. Tasks that had previously been distributed amongst various stakeholders including grandparents, house helps and even schools have fallen squarely on parents and even more disproportionally on women. But women have risen to so many challenges before as well. It is a woman’s unique ability of empathy, trust and effective communication that has led them in managing this unchartered territory. Women witness many unexpected circumstances in their lives and somehow we come out at the other side of the tunnel by designing our own path and not simply following one.

Women have a whole mix of life experiences with us which makes us the right candidate to take charge of this pandemic.

We become fiercely protective of our families and especially of our children and it is this attitude which has refrained many women from venturing out of their homes without any reason. The resilient core of women and their empathetic outlook towards society makes them very strong individuals and this is why, according to a WHO study, 7 out of every 10 health workers are women.

But in all this chaos lies an opportunity to learn from this calamity. Seeking help from the family and their cooperation in managing everyday jobs is something women will have to ask for. Even being a Supermom, one cannot do everything. One cannot expect the role of a parent, teacher and a working woman to be combined into the same 24 hours and expect outstanding results.

This time away from school has also given an opportunity to train, guide and make the kids step up to take more responsibilities. Dividing household chores, setting up rewards for completion of dedicated tasks or even applauding their efforts would go a long way in inculcating the sense of responsibility in the young minds.

Thanks to technology, which by being an integral part of our lives today, has played a key role in enabling us to adjust to this new normal. Education, entertainment, communication, accessibility and even the daily necessities are being taken care by the click of a button. Not only that, technology has also aided in maintaining professional decorum by allowing online access to work and managing the responsibilities without having to venture out.

Covid-19 has not only changed the course of life all over the globe but has also created a humanitarian revolution that will lead to the emergence of a more humane version of ourselves. We have ample opportunities to be empathetic today, be it with our loved ones, our families, co-workers or even for the stranger on the street who’s struggling for life in these testing times. By serving, helping, giving to others and by taking time out for ourselves, going back to the basics and respecting nature, Covid-19 has made us evolve better.

More important is for women to support other women in these trying times and be there for each other. It is time to prove that we women have been fighting many difficult battles since time immemorial and this time is no exception. Let us together take care of the elderly in our families and around us, nurture the young ones, take care of our men and be compassionate yet strong in our approach towards fighting this pandemic.

The views, thoughts, and opinions expressed in the article belong solely to the author, and not necessarily reflect the views, thoughts, and opinions of EducationWorld.

Also read: How Emotional Intelligence can help us survive this pandemic

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