Motherhood is never an easy role to undertake. There is great joy but great struggle too. To have the responsibility for another person and to balance your own identity while nurturing another can be tough. Today, I want to put aside my own existential, emotional, physical and moral dilemmas of motherhood and dedicate this piece to the "real hero moms".
I think of mothers who have to raise their children in poverty, when each day is battle to scrounge a single morsel of food. A mother who will starve herself but some how fulfil her child's needs. I think of what fears she must carry of raising her kids on the streets, in slums and in transient migrant camps. Mothers who live through war torn or violence torn zones, mothers who lives in disaster prone zones and mothers who might find themselves homeless and abandoned.
I think of the mothers who have to carry the children to the open fields, construction sites and other workplaces just to earn a daily wage. They can't think of safety or hygiene. They have little choice.
I think of mothers who have to keep their daughters at home, just to keep them safe because they can't send them alone to school or because they need help in their household chores. They have little choice.
I think of mothers who have no access to healthcare, who deliver and die at childbirth or worse are infected and sick after childbirth. Or worse the mothers who are blamed for giving birth to girls or for giving birth to a child with disability. Mothers burdened and blamed for the most bizarre of child behaviours. What little choice or control do they have over their circumstances.
I think of mothers who raise children, manage homes, manage husbands with alcoholism, survive violence and still raise a their children.
I think of the mothers who walk miles to collect water, who work despite ill health, who work like men when toiling and then come home and work like women who have to bear the burden of home and childcare. Women who have no time for a moment to themselves or who can never claim a day off a sick day or "me time ".
Who are we kidding ? We are way more fortunate that we realise. We even have the luxury to intellectualise our experience.
Here are some facts none of us can ignore;
According to the World Health Organisation report in 2010, 1000 women die everyday of the consequences of pregnancy and childbirth. 24 years on average more a woman may live in a high income country than a low income developing country. 1/3 rd of female death are due to cardio vascular disorders. 1 in 3 women has experienced violence sexual or physical.
According to a UN women report released in April 2015 :
The report reveals that globally, on average, women are paid 24% less than men. The gaps for women with children are even wider. Lower rates of labour force participation, gender pay gaps and lower access to pensions add to a huge care penalty for women.
Women are clustered into a limited set of under-valued occupations. For example, 83% of domestic workers worldwide are women and almost half of them are not entitled to the minimum wage.
All these facts are overwhelming and perhaps gender equity and equal parenting is but fancy jargon we throw around. As a mother and a woman my heart goes out to these unsung heroes.
The answers of course lie in multi faceted approaches in health, education, activism, awareness, law and order, policies and schemes. Meanwhile, each one of us has a responsibility to look out for each other. The sisterhood of women is a force to reckon with. More power to every woman out there who is struggling to stay afloat as she raises her family.