In a country like ours, being a working woman is an achievement in itself. And being a working mother doubly so, considering the kind of workload she faces. Talking to SheThePeople.TV about the landscape of motherhood and how it has transformed with the current age of working women, the founder of a feminist publishing company, Mandira Sen, said, “It has both changed and not changed. If a woman belongs to the middle class, then she probably has a bit more choice and support, but the ordinary working class woman has always worked.”

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She added, “She worked because she had to, and when she has to, then she leaves the child with someone else. So there is a lot of grief and guilt, especially in working class mothers. And it is these women who get no support from society, which includes even her own family.”

The lack of support system is the main reason why mothers in today’s work-from-home landscape prefer to stay at home than be out working.

In one of our earlier interviews with author Kiran Manral, she contended the challenges of unorganised childcare. “Childcare in India for the working mom is a difficult beast. There is not enough organized and reliable daycare for younger children, the distances between workplace and home often entails long hours of travel, and unless one has a family member at home (a mother-in-law or mother) to watch out for the child or trusted nannies, it is a tough balancing act with a young child.”

But the ongoing women’s movement and the hype around feminism has to a certain extent helped bring these issues of guilt-ridden working moms out in the open.

Mandira, who founded Bhatkal and Sen in the early 90s and has been publishing works of women writers for over a decade now, argues that though feminism has succeeded and brought a change in society, it has only happened for the benefit of the middle class women.

So even as the guilt remains among working mothers of having a child waiting at home, the support system and society’s ideological mindset that distributes the responsibility equally to both genders is what we really need. We may have a cultural corporate change but until the social change comes through, mothers will continue to face guilt even as they go on with work every day.