Role of women in the home
The role of women in the family is multi-faceted. Primarily, her duties centre around her life in the home and in the labour force. As a homemaker, the woman is a 24-hour multi-purpose worker. Mahatma Gandhi had stated that “women by nature are intended to be soft, tenderhearted and sympathetic mothers to their children…” He had also cautioned women that domestic work output should not take the whole of their time.
In everyday life and various crises, the woman displays strength and patience in carrying out her responsibilities. Through her hard work and dedication to housekeeping, child-rearing and assisting in agriculture and industry, woman in India contributed much to national, economic and social development. She is responsible for the food that the family consumes and for the care of her children. She takes care of food production, food processing, food preparation and serving, cleaning the household, carrying water, gathering fuel and washing dishes and clothes. Management of resources—human and material—sending children to school, meeting the needs of adolescents, improving the environment and planning for her daughters’ future are also among her heavy responsibilities. She exerts great influence on the mental and social development of children. The woman is the fulcrum around which all the decisions and actions of the family revolve.
The role of women in society and their mental resources are almost inexhaustible. They learn «through» the ears and transmit orally much of the religious rites, ethical and moral codes, literature and music. They have played a significant role in the development and fostering of social, cultural and spiritual values, social relations and co-operation. Home beautification has been the prerogative of women since the beginning of civilisation.
Role of women in the labour force
In the poorer communities, women in India do much strenuous physical work to eke out a living. At least 60 percent of the rural women in India are involved in agricultural work—weeding, manuring, harvesting, winnowing, shelling and storing of crops. The other responsibilities include tending poultry and other domestic and farm animals. Transport of produce to the market is also their job. Such heavy work affects the health and the role of women in society and in the family directly and indirectly.
However, women’s contribution to development has not been given due importance. The aim of women’s development is to help develop «adult women» to arrive at decisions that affect their lives and to bear the consequences of the decisions with courage. Full integration of women in India into total development right from the stage of decision-making of economic, social and cultural matters; and at community, regional, national and international levels is very important. Recognising the need for integrating women inIndia into development, the 20-point programme incorporates programmes of welfare for women in India and children and nutrition programmes for pregnant women, nursing mothers and children in tribal, hill and backwards areas.