Beyond The Home: Unveiling The Invisible Sacrifices and Unspoken Challenges of Modern Housewives

Beyond The Home: Unveiling The Invisible Sacrifices and Unspoken Challenges of Modern Housewives

Motherhood and marriage heavily impact a woman’s professional journey. Many women have faced difficulties in balancing their family life and their career, and have often been forced to choose between one or the other due to societal pressure, economic burden or simply having no other choice. Kumari, a 51 years old woman who wishes to remain anonymous, tells us about her struggles of being a housewife and also a working mother.

  • Can you tell us about the dreams or goals you had and if you were able to achieve them? (Were you forced to give up your dreams due to marriage, children or family commitments)

I was actually quite ambitious when I was young. I was known as a workaholic, and I was known to work hard, so I was recognised for my talent by my superiors. The highest position I was able to work in was as a merchandiser. I wanted to become a manager, but I was never able to because I had to quit my job when my husband received a transfer to go abroad. I’ve lost 13 jobs because of my husband, and I wasn’t able to continue certain jobs because I had to take care of my children. It makes me really sad to think about what could have been and how far I could have gone.

  • How has your family impacted your professional life?

I was a true career woman before I got married, but having 2 children made it really hard for me to continue work for several years. So there were huge gaps of unemployment in my work experience which made it difficult for me when looking for a job. As I mentioned earlier, my husband’s career made me lose mine several times. Once we returned from abroad, I couldn’t go back to work because in the textile industry women aren’t taken into the workforce after 40. This became a huge problem for my family when my husband died, because we had no source of income. Luckily my siblings helped us and when my daughter became 18, she started to earn. I kept trying to get a job over the years, including starting my own business, but nothing was a success.

  • Did you face discrimination for being an unemployed woman?

Not really. I personally felt more discrimination for being a working mother back when I worked, because I had to have my parents taking care of my kids. I did feel that people were thinking of me as incompetent when I wasn’t able to find a job after my husband’s death, when we were struggling with money. It’s actually common for women of my generation to be housewives anyway, so I feel that the discrimination about being unemployed really depended on the situation my famiyand I were in.

  • How do you feel about the role of women in Sri Lankan society?

It depends on the generation, but I think every generation expects women to marry and have children. Back then, being a housewife was accepted and was even the norm, but nowadays it’s really hard for a woman to be a housewife. The current economy and the change in societal attitudes related to women have made women working being necessary. The issue here is that women still have to do everything else, which includes housework and childcare, which is exhausting.

  • What social changes do you believe need to be made to make women more empowered?

I think it’s really sad how women are overworked, and expected to do everything, especially when they’re married. I think that men should realise the importance of supporting their wives by splitting the workload of the house between them, instead of expecting their wife to cook, clean, take care of the kids and the parents, all while doing a 9-5 job. I also believe that this idea that it is absolutely necessary for a woman to get married and have children needs to be abandoned, because it really isn’t. Women should be able to enjoy their lives and explore themselves outside of the roles of being a mother and a wife, just like men are able to. Women will be empowered when they have the choice to do what they want, that’s my belief.

  • Do you love being a housewife or do you regret it?

I personally hate it. I love my children and I love the time that I was able to spend with them due to not having to go to work, but I wasn’t able to achieve my dreams or hopes. My family faced really rough times over the past few years because of this,  and we would have been able to overcome them much easier if I had a job, which I wasn’t able to get due to years of unemployment. I don’t think being a housewife is bad, but it just wasn’t for me. I believe that women should only become housewives if they are really able to financially, mentally and emotionally able to.

While we are deeply saddened to hear how a talented woman like Kumari was unable to follow her dreams due to her unfortunate circumstances, we are also amazed by her strength and courage when facing the numerous hardships of her life. Life is undoubtedly hard, especially for women with big dreams. Just like Kumari tells us, we encourage all the young women reading this to follow their passion, even if it may seem hard at times. We thank Mrs. Kumari for this interview and we wish her the very best.

Interviewed by Rtr. Vibhavee Sarathchandra

Written by Rtr. Vibhavee Sarathchandra

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