By Juggun Kazim
December 22, 2013
Who works more, men or women? And what exactly do we mean by ‘work’? Is work only what people do in a salaried workspace or does being a homemaker count as well? The age-old and still common myth is that anything done inside the house doesn’t count as work. So, everything men do is ‘work’ but the 18 hours a day many women put into running their homes are treated as if they are all spent at a spa.
Work is work. Yes, men work hard. But the truth is most women work just as hard, if not harder. Any man who thinks running a house is a joke has never actually run one.
Let’s leave aside the question of whether housework is really ‘work’: even when women work outside the house, people find a way to belittle their achievements. The standard argument is that women work ‘just for themselves’, while men do the heavy lifting. Again, not true. To begin with, economic pressures are such these days that many families need two incomes to survive. Furthermore, the reason why women don’t get to the corner office is because they are too busy juggling other responsibilities.
In my case, the reason I was able to work and raise Hamza as a single parent was the support of my family and friends. Initially, it wasn’t so hard because I would just take him with me wherever I went. Then, when he started going to school, I had to start leaving him at home because he needed a steady routine. My Amina Chachi stepped in as did my mother, my siblings and my friend Zehra. They all took turns watching him because I was petrified of leaving him alone.
It was excruciating for me to leave my little boy for hours on end and then there were the questions: why are you going, Mama? Don’t you love me? Why can’t I go? Here again, I would have been lost without my family and friends. There were days I was working 16- to 18-hour work shifts and literally came home only to shower and sleep. I may have been exhausted and brain-dead but I knew my little guy wasn’t neglected.
Today, I have a secure eight-year-old son, who watches my work, comments on it, and most importantly, is proud of me. I guess all that hard work to give him a secure future and a positive approach paid off!
I have truly been blessed though. I remarried recently and am still working like I used to, if not more, because I have an extremely supportive and positive husband who supports my desire to succeed and achieve more.
At the same time, let’s be clear about one thing: nobody works properly without a support system. The only difference between men and women is that support systems for men are taken for granted. Practically, every man expects his wife to take care of his house and his kid. Few men support their wife if she wants to work and even fewer help out by sharing the burden of what are traditionally called ‘women’s duties’. If you ask me, that just isn’t right.
Change always starts at the grass roots level. Parents need to raise their daughters with the same ambitions as their sons. And they need to teach their sons to help share their wife’s workload if she chooses to work.
Juggun Kazim is an actor, an anchor and a model. She is currently the host of ‘Morning with Juggun’ on PTV Home.