Women today are socially required to meet various standards of perfection to be considered wonderful, however, this produces more anxiety than happiness.
Lawyer, specialist in Human Rights
Western feminists of the 20th century worked for economic independence, sexual liberation, and women’s political participation, among other things. In addition to taking care of household chores, they wanted to be able to work, manage their money, choose and be chosen, and decide how they wanted to make a family. Nevertheless, these possibilities did not become options. They became compulsory.
“We got new spaces, but we kept the ones we had before. Today, a woman who decides to stay home is almost seen as badly as the one who decides to be successful professional and leave their children with a nanny. Women are trapped in a double standard where they have to be the best mothers, the best employees, and the best wives, which can trigger a neurosis,” states lawyer Natalia Buenahora, director of Ekuánima, a consulting firm that offers guidance to companies on incorporating gender equality.
For Buenahora, it is not that one option is better than the other, of that you must do a bit of everything, but that you have the possibility to do what you want. If you want to be a homemaker, it should be because you want to, and if you want to dedicate yourself to your profession, then you should have the necessary support network. In both circumstances, support from your partner is essential.
Sheryl Sandberg, director of operations for Facebook, agrees. In her book Lean In, she talks about how the equal division of household chores with her husband, in part, made it possible for her to become one of Silicon Valley’s top executives. Sandberg advises women to assume a leadership position in their jobs, turn their significant others into real partners, and shatter the myth of “having it all.” Her book became a best seller in 2013 and paved the way for the Lean In Foundation, a community that wants to create equitable working environments.
A matter of equity
It is not that men do not have the ability to assume caregiving tasks, they can also take care of their children and the home. But, they generally prioritize their work since gender inequality leads them to having better salaries. According to the data analysis company PayScale, in figures released on March 31 of this year, women in the United States earn 81 cents for every dollar a man earns. The gaps change according to race and profession, among other factors, but the truth is that they receive less money than men for doing the same job, and also spend more time on housework.
“Men often have no way of knowing what the day-to-day needs are because they are not at home, but what they have experienced in quarantine allowed them to realize,” states Buenahora, whose firm did a study on the issue in Colombia. The problem for women is that men still see their contribution to housework as a favor, help they must provide until their partner is available again to relieve them. What is needed is an acknowledgement of the damage and a change of mentality.
“There are two ways to break these stereotypes. The first is from the outside, that is, changing the way the world thinks, which is difficult. The other is changing your own perception, in other words, seeing ourselves as empowered women who are making decisions because we value our desires, our will, above social expectations. The ideal is to have women safely placed in a personal project, far from the social expectations that end up filling them with guilt,” explains Buenahora. Thus, wonder woman is not the one who has the super power to stretch her hours and energy to do everything society demands of her to perfection, but the one who is able to clearly define her life project and do it with the support of her family and partner.•
79 % of employed women in Latin America are working in low-productivity sectors, according to the WHO.
Despite the fact that women have gained new spaces, they continue to occupy the same spaces they have had for a long time, with even more demands.