Ever since I was born, my mother wanted me to become an IAS. She held onto the dream for a long time. She made me internalise that becoming an IAS was my dream. But only later that I realised that it was my parents’ dream. Even today when I have become a writer, my parents want me to take up lecturership to earn name and money. My parents are rarely satisfied with the path that I have chosen to achieve my dreams.
This happens in most Indian households. The dreams that parents couldn’t fulfil, they imposed on their children in the name of parampara or unfulfilled dreams. Like for example, I belong to Bihar and it is perceived that every Bihari is good at maths and wants to be an IAS. Similarly, families that are doctors expect their children to be doctors too. Families that are involved in business expect their children to be business persons too. But in all this, where is the freedom of the child to choose the career they want? Does their choice do not matter,? Is it not right that freedom to choose a career is the first step towards fulfilling dreams?
The choice of career is limited especially in the case of the daughters because women are rarely the decision-makers of their lives. In our society daughters aren’t usually allowed to be educated. Even if they are, financial independence is not seen as a woman’s work. In such conditions, if some parents allow their daughters the freedom to earn, daughters are automatically obliged to accept whatever conditions parents apply.
When it comes to the choice of career, some parents allow their daughters to study if they pursue the subject and career that their parents seem right. And the choice of the right career again depends on more than one factor.
A woman’s career choice is determined not just by family’s tradition but by their safety in the job. For example, my mother never wanted me to become a journalist because she always assumed that a woman journalist will be raped or harassed or murdered.
She wants me to be a lecturer because she thinks it is a safe job for a woman. Similarly, many parents do not allow their daughters to be police officers, pilots or air hostesses. Apart from safety, there is also this concern of sending daughters too far. Parents don’t want their daughters to go too far for their job because then they won’t be able to find the right groom for them. Moreover, there is a common belief that if daughters go too far they will go out of the hands of the parents. They can fall in love, drink or smoke and stain their character.
But why don’t parents understand that if society is at fault, then it is not right to restrict women?
Will women’s freedom make sense if they can’t choose? If women do not have the freedom to weave their dreams then how will they achieve them? If they don’t walk on the path of achieving their dreams, then how will their success be real?
I understand that it is a privilege for women like me to be allowed to have a career, even if it is not of our choice. Many women don’t even have that freedom. But then, why should earning be a privilege for women at all? Why shouldn’t it be a necessity? And why should choosing one’s career be a privilege?
It is high time now that women should be able to choose how they want their life to unfold. Women are strong economic forces. If women join the workforce in any sector, they can contribute immensely to the GDP of the nation. So doesn’t it make sense that women might as well get to decide where they want to put their efforts in?
Views expressed are author’s own