Hey, guys! Welcome to [Listening]!
Before today’s listening, let’s check the answers to the last episode.
Should men do housework? This question evokes many debates. Recently, a woman in India wrote a petition for men to share housework and has gathered nearly 70,000 signatures. To know more details, just follow us in today’s [Listening].
Click the button at the bottom of the screen to play the audio. Please fill in the blanks and leave your answers in the comment. The answers will be revealed in the next episode.
Housework in India usually involves a lot of heavy lifting. Unlike in the West, few Indian homes are equipped with dishwashers, vacuum cleaners or washing machines.
So, dishes have to be individually cleaned, clothes have to be washed in ______ (1 word missing) and hung out to dry, and homes have to be swept with brooms and mopped with rags. Then there are children to be looked after and the elderly and infirm to be cared for.
In millions of middle class homes, the housework is _______ (2 words missing) the hired domestic help – part-time cooks, cleaners and nannies. But what happens when the help can’t come to work because there is a nationwide lockdown?
The answer is friction and fighting – and in one unique case, a petition urging Prime Minister Narendra Modi to intervene.
“Does the handle of a jhadu (broom) come printed with the words: ‘to be operated by women only’?” asks the petition, published on change.org.
“What about the manual of the washing machine or gas stove? Then why is it that most men are not doing their share of housework!”
The petition’s author, Subarna Ghosh, who was fed up of cooking and cleaning and doing laundry while trying to work from home, wants the prime minister “to address the issue in his next speech” and to “encourage all Indian men to do an equal share of housework”.
Ms Ghosh’s petition has _______ (1 word missing) nearly 70,000 signatures – a reflection of the scale of gender inequality in homes across India. According to an International Labour Organization report, in 2018 women in urban India spent 312 minutes a day on unpaid care work. Men did 29 minutes. In villages, it was 291 minutes for women as against 32 minutes for men.
In Ms Ghosh’s Mumbai home it was no different. The petition, she told the BBC, came out of “life experiences of my own, and also of lots of women around me”. The burden of housework had always been hers, she said. “I do cooking, cleaning, making beds, laundry, folding clothes and everything else.”
When she married, the fault lines over housework were partly hidden because of the presence of domestic help, leading to a false sense of equality at home. “Domestic help also helps _______ (1 word missing) peace in our homes,” she said. “The chores are taken care of and it seems all is well.”
But the lockdown brought the family face-to-face with the daily drudgery of housework and with the inequality that had been “shoved under the carpet”. So she set about petitioning the prime minister.
The women she spoke to in her neighbourhood said they were equally frustrated with housework, but most found the idea that their husbands help around the house ludicrous.
When Ms Ghosh told her husband that she was starting a petition he was “very supportive”, she said. Ms Ghosh’s petition was also criticised by a lot of people on social media. Many chided her for bothering the prime minister with “a frivolous matter”.
That’s all for today’s [Listening]!
Do you think whether men should do housework or not? Share with us your own opinions in the comments down below. 😘
See you next time!