Kerala Mayor Resumes Office With Newborn, Kicks Debate On Gender Roles

A photo of Thiruvananthapuram Mayor Arya Rajendran working in her office while holding her newborn restarted a discussion on motherhood and gender roles. This raises the question of glorifying women and establishing gender quality.

Kalyani Ganesan
Sep 18, 2023 14:22 IST
Kerala Mayor Resumes Office With Newborn

Image credits: Twitter

A photo of Thiruvananthapuram Mayor Arya Rajendran working in her office holding her newborn on her lap has gone viral on social media and has restarted a discussion on motherhood and gender roles. The picture shows the mayor checking files on her desk while holding her one-month-old.

While many netizens glorified the mayor for her exceptional ability to maintain a work-life balance, others have criticised society for assuming the mother to be the primary caregiver of her child.

Kerala Mayor Resumes Office With Newborn

Arya Rajendren, the youngest mayor in the country, married MLA Sachin Dev in September 2022. Notably, Dev is the youngest MLA in the current Kerala Assembly. The couple were blessed with a baby girl, Dua Dev, on August 10. The mayor’s office was populated with well-wishers when she resumed work last week, just a month after giving birth to her child.


This incident certainly raises the question of why women, regardless of being well-educated, having a successful career, and being self-sufficient, continue to be the primary caretakers of their children. Why does society assume that women are "superhumans" who can do it all? Or is pressurising women from all sides so that they break and confine themselves inside the four walls of their homes patriarchal society’s way of hindering women’s progress?

Calling this a "perfect" work-life balance is absurd. Being a mother myself, I certainly understand the need for a newborn baby to be with his or her mother. With the round-the-clock feeding schedules, it’s right that the baby remains in the company of the mother. Being mayor probably is not a job where a woman can afford to take off for a solid six months and rest at home. That being said, can’t anyone offer to accompany a working mother to support her while she works?

Sahithya Jagannathan, a model and presenter, resumed her career three weeks after giving birth to her twins. "While my mother and mother-in-law were looking after the twins, my partner drove to and fro between the venue of my event and our home to take freshly pumped breastmilk for the babies. Without the solid support system from this trio, I could not have managed to hold on to my position in one of the most demanding fields," she shared in an exclusive to SheThePeople. While she did emphasise that it’s always better for women to take the time to let their bodies heal before restarting their careers, the field she is in is highly demanding, and she could easily be replaced if she hadn’t restarted her career early.


Time To Establish Equality?

Similarly, being mayor is also extremely demanding and mandates a woman to resume her career at the earliest. If she doesn't, patriarchal society would deem her "irresponsible" and "unfit" for such professions. They would take this opportunity to criticise and judge women for not being good enough, both as professionals and as mothers. "That is why women should better remain at home and let the men rule the country," they would remark sarcastically.

But is that the solution? Why won’t people talk about distributing domestic and parenting responsibilities equally between a couple? Won’t that allow women to flourish in their careers as well as have a peaceful family life? Oh, yeah right! That’s equality, and why would patriarchal societies pave the way for that?


We are just less than four months away from 2024, and isn’t this patriarchal mindset prevailing in society highly concerning? How do we make the society a better place? Change needs to start at home; every husband or partner needs to break free from internalised patriarchy and work towards establishing equality at home. Gradually, it’ll create a change in society.

Suggested Reading:Kerala IAS Officer Criticised: Why Does Society Question Dedication Of Working Mothers?

Views expressed by the author are their own

#Arya Rajendran #Thiruvananthapuram Mayor #Kerala